A Tennessee convict on lawn mowing duty sexually assaulted and strangled a female corrections administrator before escaping prison grounds on a tractor, authorities said. So far, investigators have received more than 200 tips of possible sightings but none have been confirmed.
The total reward for information leading to his capture and arrest is $32,500, according to the TBI.
Johnson's co-workers discovered her body about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday after she didn't report to work.
Hundreds of law enforcement personnel converged near a soybean field where they took a disheveled Watson wearing camouflage overalls into custody after a ground and air search, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said at a Sunday news conference.
He fled the area in a tractor, which was found just over a mile from the crime scene, along with his prison identification. "Debra is known as a very dedicated, professional correctional employee respected both by the offender population and the people who work for our department".
A media briefing is pending, but officials have reported Watson was taken into custody alive and is reportedly being taken for treatment at a local hospital.
Watson, 44, was serving a 15-year sentence on especially aggravated kidnapping since 2013.
TBI and the Tennessee Department of Correction gave a brief update on the search from the prison Friday afternoon.
"The pressure they put on Watson while he was on the run was absolutely critical", Rausch said.
Watson was wanted in charges of murder, burglary and sexual battery. He illegally confined his wife while using an aluminum baseball bat in July 2012, court documents showed. They believe Johnson, 64, was the victim of a homicide. He was previously convicted of aggravated child abuse and worked in the rural Tennessee prison as a farm laborer. Those with trail or property surveillance cameras should check those too, officials said.
Johnson, a 38-year veteran employee of Tennessee state, was found in her home on prison property was found with a cord wrapped around her neck Wednesday morning.
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