Tennessee prison employee killed; inmate escapes on tractor

RIPLEY, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee official says an inmate who is a person of interest in the death of a corrections employee escaped the area on a tractor.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said at a news conference Wednesday evening that the tractor used by 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson was found about a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary. The facility is about 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Memphis.

Department of Correction Commissioner Tony Parker said 64-year-old correctional administrator Debra Johnson was found dead in her residence at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. He said she lived in a property on site.

Watson was serving a 15-year sentence on an especially aggravated kidnapping conviction out of Henry County. He worked at the prison as a farm laborer.

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TBI says Watson should be considered extremely dangerous.

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