Curtis Ray Watson
Curtis Ray Watson
PHOTO: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
Now playing
00:42
Escaped inmate at prison official's home before her death
Staffer White House move out
Staffer White House move out
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:36
Moving trucks spotted at White House as staffers clean out their desks
southern california january strong winds low humidity fire conditions weather santa ana winds_00000000.png
southern california january strong winds low humidity fire conditions weather santa ana winds_00000000.png
Now playing
01:19
Fire weather prevalent across Southern California
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:34
Blizzard, rain, and snow to hinder Central and Eastern US weekend weather
PHOTO: POOL
Now playing
00:48
Pence makes surprise visit to Capitol to thank National Guard
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice on October 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice on October 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.
PHOTO: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Now playing
03:47
FBI director speaks publicly for first time since Capitol riots
PHOTO: From Public Report / Jeremy Lee Quinn
Now playing
01:39
Video from inside Capitol raises questions for investigators
A man receives a dose of the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at South Bronx Educational Campus, in the Bronx New York on January 10, 2021. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
A man receives a dose of the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at South Bronx Educational Campus, in the Bronx New York on January 10, 2021. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:25
Coronavirus cases surge as states struggle to vaccinate
CNN
CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports from inside the first hotel in the country to have been converted into a overflow hospital to treat patients.
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
03:21
See inside the first UK hotel converted into a Covid-19 ward
House impeachment 217
House impeachment 217
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:08
See historic moment House reaches enough votes to impeach Trump
PHOTO: Pool
Now playing
01:25
Pelosi speaks for first time following Trump's historic 2nd impeachment
Trump new video
Trump new video
PHOTO: White House Photo
Now playing
07:36
Trump releases video condemning violence after second impeachment
PHOTO: pool
Now playing
03:27
House GOP leader: The President bears responsibility for attack
Now playing
02:06
Ex-FBI director on what investigators are looking for after Capitol riot
Capitol Hill National Guard security resting protection Bash vpx_00004417.png
Capitol Hill National Guard security resting protection Bash vpx_00004417.png
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:57
'Nothing like I've seen:' Bash reacts to video of resting troops in Capitol
PHOTO: House TV
Now playing
03:04
Hear Pelosi's remarks during impeachment debate
Nation Guard Guns Capitol 0113
Nation Guard Guns Capitol 0113
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:43
What the Capitol looks like ahead of impeachment vote
(CNN) —  

An inmate who escaped from a Tennessee prison while on mowing work detail was at the home of a corrections official three hours before her body was discovered, investigators said.

A manhunt is underway for Curtis Ray Watson, who escaped Wednesday from West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning, and is considered extremely dangerous.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said he’s a suspect in the death of Debra Johnson, a longtime corrections official who was found dead in her home on the prison grounds.

Johnson’s co-workers discovered her body about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday after she didn’t report to work. Hours earlier, at 8:30 a.m., corrections officers saw Watson on a facility golf cart at her home, the TBI said Friday.

Authorities believe Johnson, 64, was killed and Watson is a suspect in her death.

TBI released two of Curtis Ray Watson
TBI released two of Curtis Ray Watson's previous mug shots in case he altered his appearance after his escape.
PHOTO: TN Bureau of Investigation

250 tips and zero credible sightings

Watson was serving a 15-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping. He was discovered missing about 11 a.m. Wednesday, when officials conducted a check of inmates.

He fled the area in a tractor, which was found just over a mile from the crime scene, along with his prison identification.

The TBI said it has received 250 tips and zero credible sightings of him, and is offering a reward of $52,500. It’s warned people in the immediate prison area to be on the lookout and double-check their property, crawl spaces and dog houses – anywhere someone could hide. Those with trail or property surveillance cameras should check those too, officials said.

“He could be anywhere,” TBI Director David Rausch said.

The TBI added Watson to its Most Wanted list. It tweeted pictures of his tattoos and his face, and additional mug shots in case he changed the appearance of his facial hair after his escape.

“Rest assured that we will find this offender and bring justice to the family of Debra Johnson,” Commissioner Tony Parker of the Tennessee Department of Correction said. “Debra is known as a very dedicated, professional correctional employee respected both by the offender population and the people who work for our department.”

TBI released two of Curtis Ray Watson
TBI released two of Curtis Ray Watson's previous mug shots in case he altered his appearance.
PHOTO: TN Bureau of Investigation

Investigators issue a blue alert

Tennessee officials have issued a blue alert – only the third since the designation’s inception in 2011. It’s done when a law enforcement officer is killed, sustains life-threatening injuries or is missing.

The West Tennessee State Penitentiary is in Henning, about 45 miles northeast of Memphis.

This is Watson’s second prison stint. He previously was in prison for aggravated child abuse and was released in 2011. He returned to prison in 2013.

CNN’s Steve Almasy and Susan Scutti contributed to this report.