Husband-and-wife murder suspects who overpowered two guards late last month to escape custody have been captured, the U.S. Marshals Service said late Wednesday.
Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, escaped in Utah while being extradited from upstate New York to Arizona on Aug. 26. The Barksdales are charged in the Arizona murder of Frank Bligh, 72, whose body has not been found. His Tucson home was set on fire April 16, and authorities have said the blaze was started to cover up the killing.
A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told NBC News on Wednesday night that the pair was taken into custody largely without incident south of Payson, Arizona, in an area known as Tonto Basin. The area is northeast of Phoenix in the Tonto National Forest.
Blake and Susan Barksdale.Tucson Police Department via Reuters
Late last month as they were being transported back to Arizona, Susan Barksdale feigned an illness to get the van they were in to stop, officials have said. When the vehicle pulled over near Blanding, Utah, the couple overpowered the two guards as they opened the rear doors, U.S. marshal for Arizona David Gonzales has told the Associated Press.
Neither of the guards were hurt, but they were bound with shoelaces, Gonzales said. The guards were reportedly able to free themselves two or three hours later by kicking out some windows.
A third inmate in the van wanted no part of the escape.
The Barksdales drove the van with the three captives locked inside to Vernon, Arizona, where they got a red GMC truck from an acquaintance and abandoned the van and their prisoners, the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Earlier this week, Blane Barksdale’ was added to the U.S. Marshals’ 15 “most wanted” list, and authorities said that he is a career criminal who is believed to be connected to the Aryan Brotherhood and white supremacist gangs.
Last month’s transport of the two accused killers was being conducted by a private company, STS. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department has said that it has suspended the use of the transport company, STS, pending a review of the escape.
The sheriff’s department said it is one of eight counties in the state that use a private transport company because of the cost of extradition.