LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Tenn. — With Curtis Watson finally behind bars again, what happens to the reward money offered for his capture?
State and federal agencies pledged $57,000 for any tips that led to the capture and conviction of Watson.
"We was looking at the Ring [camera] and saw every move that he was making," said Ann Taylor in a Sunday afternoon press conference.
Taylor – along with her husband Harvey – noticed Watson on their home security camera early Sunday morning.
The Taylors got an early morning alert on their phone from their Ring camera.
"After he closed the refrigerator door, my wife could see his face and recognize his beard," said Harvey Taylor.
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That alert helped lead to the capture of Watson, the man accused of murdering Debra Johnson – a 38-year employee of the Tennessee Department of Correction.
"That location [where we found Watson] is approximately 750 feet from the home where the video was captured," said TBI director David Rausch on Sunday.
When asked if law enforcement talked to him about the reward money and if he is due that money, Harvey Taylor said with a smile, "I would think so."
In the days during Watson's escape, the reward reached $57,000.
That money is a combination of funds from six state and federal agencies: $25,000 from Gov. Bill Lee's Office, $10,000 each from FBI and U.S. Marshals, $5,000 from ATF, $4,500 from TDOC, and $2,500 from TBI.
Will all or any of the money go to the Taylor family?
On Sunday, Rausch said he wouldn't answer questions about the reward money but added his agency will have conversations about it.
Though the governor's office and FBI didn't answer FOX13's questions Monday afternoon, TBI did respond to some.
Keli McAlister, a spokesperson for the state agency sent a statement:
"We are working, alongside the other agencies who offered money for the capture of Curtis Watson, to determine the most appropriate ways to distribute the reward. As part of that effort, TBI continues to review all of the relevant details of Sunday's events to ensure authorities have identified those who immediately contributed to Watson's capture.
While we cannot speak for other agencies, TBI has a designated account – part of our overall state-appropriate budget – to facilitate ongoing law enforcement investigations, from which we can draw reward monies as needed."
In cases like these, words matter.
"[We will offer] a $25,000 reward for the apprehension, the arrest and the conviction of this individual," said Lee last week.
Lee used the words "arrest" and "conviction." TBI used similar language in past press releases offering up reward money for tips.
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