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From the WMC archives: Fort Pillow escape leaves 3 dead

Updated: Aug. 8, 2019 at 9:54 PM CDT
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BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - In 1984, five men escaped from the same prison as Curtis Ray Watson.

In those times, West Tennessee State Penitentiary was known as “Fort Pillow State Prison.”

The February 1984 escape of five Fort Pillow prisoners was the worst of them all.

It all started when three of the prisoners drew guns on two prison guards.

Two of the inmates dressed in the guards’ uniforms. They flagged down a man driving on a nearby highway and hijacked the vehicle.

Tennessee troopers were searching for the men on every back road in Fayette County.

All five men trudged through Haywood County and wound up in Brownsville, where they split up.

Three people were eventually killed, including one of the escapees. A North Carolina state trooper was critically wounded and 17 people had been taken hostage as the criminals made their getaway.

In the end, the four surviving runaway convicts were recaptured.

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