According to court documents, Watson was a trusty at the prison, and therefore he had access to prison equipment – including a golf cart and a tractor.
Trustees are required to wear reflective vests while working on the prison grounds, according to officials.
Phone records show Debra Johnson was alive and talking on the phone around 8:10 a.m. Wednesday. Correctional officers noticed Watson on a golf cart at Johnson's house half an hour later.
Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., Watson took a tractor and a reflective vest from the prison and drove away. He requested the vest from another inmate at the prison.
Prison officials realized Watson was missing around 11 a.m.
Officials also noticed Johnson did not report to work that morning.
Co-workers went to her home to see if she was there and discovered her body at 11:30 a.m. A reflective vest was also found in Johnson’s home.
Investigators found the tractor Watson was driving and his prison ID around 1:30 p.m. about 2 miles from the prison.
Agents found a cord wrapped around Ms. Johnson’s neck, leading agents to believe she was strangled to death. Therefore, the death was determined to be a homicide.
Officers are still searching for Curtis Watson.
Warrants for his arrest include first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery.
According to TBI, the initial reward of $30,000 for information about Watson has been increased again.
Officials said the FBI and U.S. Marshals have each contributed $10,000, raising the total ransom reward to $52,500.
Watson is still on the run, and authorities are actively searching for him, officials said. Investigators said Watson should be considered,"extremely dangerous."