Husband and wife murder suspects who escaped custody of two guards were captured after more than two weeks of flight, the US Marshals Service announced Wednesday.
Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, escaped to Utah on August 26 while they were extradited from upstate New York State to Arizona. . The Barksdales are charged with the murder of 72-year-old Frank Bligh in Arizona whose body was not recovered. His Tucson home was set on fire on April 16 and authorities said the fire had begun to cover the killing.
A police source familiar with the investigation told NBC News on Wednesday night that the two men had been arrested south of Payson, Arizona, in an area known as Tonto Basin. The area is northeast of Phoenix, in the Tonto National Forest, about 260 km from where they escaped.
The Navajo County Sheriff's Office in Arizona said in a statement that the Barksdales had been arrested without incident and that the sheriff's office had helped the commissioners' service in the capture.
At the end of last month, while the couple was brought back to Arizona, Susan Barksdale claimed to have been sick to have the van in which they were arrested, officials said. When the vehicle stopped near Blanding, Utah, the couple mastered the two guards when they opened the back doors, said David Gonzales, US Marshal for Arizona, to Associated Press.
None of the guards were injured, but they were tied with laces, said Gonzales. A third inmate in the van did not want any share of the escape.
The Barksdales drove the van with the three captives locked up in Vernon, Arizona, where they had a red GMC truck, the US Marshals service announced. They then abandoned the van with their three prisoners inside.
The guards could have been released two or three hours later by kicking through the window.
Payson, Arizona, is about 257 km southwest of Blanding, Utah, where the escape took place, and about 90 km west of Vernon, in Arizona, where authorities believe that the couple had the truck.
Earlier this week, Blane Barksdale was added to the "15 Most Wanted" list of 15 US Marshals. According to the authorities, he would be a career criminal who would be linked to Aryan Brotherhood gangs and white supremacy.
The Barksdales were arrested in upstate New York in May following a nationwide manhunt, officials said.
The transport of the two alleged killers was carried out last month by a private company, STS. The Pima County Sheriff's Department has announced that it has suspended the use of the STS transit company pending a review of the leak.
The sheriff's department said it was one of eight state counties to resort to a private transportation company because of the cost of extradition.