HENRY COUNTY, TN (WSMV) - Old neighbors of Curtis Watson are recalling their shock at his initial arrest seven years before he escaped from prison. 

They say they didn't know much about him and his wife, until they heard he got arrested. 

"This neighborhood is all good neighbors and everything, but... we didn't really know them that much." Joey Lackey said. He's live in the same house for 17 years. Watson used to live next to it. "They weren't real neighborly, so nobody bothered them."

He can remember hearing about a kidnapping. "I was so shocked to hear in the end what happened over there."

According to a police report obtained by News4, Watson was arrested in July of 2012 after brutally and repeatedly raping his wife, hitting her with a baseball bat, and threatening her life. 

"I couldn't believe I lived right there and didn't know that," Lackey said. "Like I said, we didn't know them."

Seven years later, news broke that Watson escaped prison, and is a suspect in the murder of a correctional administrator. 

"We don't want anyone to change their daily activity," Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew said. "We don't want anyone in Henry County to be afraid of the circumstances we're facing right now, but we do want you to be mindful." His department is working with agencies across the state to put Watson back behind bars. The Blue Alert issued after his escape, used for people who have committed a violent crime against law enforcement, is the third in Tennessee history. 

"She dedicated her life to making communities safer," Belew said of Correctional Administrator Debra Johnson, found dead in her home Wednesday morning. "And ultimately, she payed the ultimate sacrifice. It gives you a little chill to know that he has done this to a fellow law enforcement officer."

Old neighbors are still in disbelief over what they remember happening on their street years ago. 

"This is a street where everybody helps everybody," Lackey said. "I just didn't believe something like that could happen and you not know about it."

Watson was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he plead guilty to aggravated kidnapping in 2013. 

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Reporter

Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017. She currently covers the court systems in Middle Tennessee.

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