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Tennessee prison employee killed; inmate escapes

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This undated photo provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows Curtis Ray Watson. Authorities in Tennessee are searching for Watson, an escaped inmate who is a person of interest in the recent homicide of a Department of Correction employee, after he escaped Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2019, from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) outside of Memphis. (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation via AP)

RIPLEY, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities in Tennessee are searching for an escaped inmate who is a person of interest in the recent homicide of a Department of Correction employee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson escaped Wednesday from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) outside of Memphis.

The TBI issued a “Blue Alert,” which is used to inform the public of violent suspects who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

Authorities say 64-year-old Debra Johnson, a correctional administrator, was killed on Wednesday. They didn’t give further details.

Watson has been incarcerated since 2012 for an aggravated kidnapping conviction. Police said at the time that Watson knocked a woman over the head with an object and raped her multiple times.

TBI says Watson should be considered extremely dangerous.

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Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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