US

Fugitive Couple Who Overpowered Guards Captured in Arizona

By Reuters

A fugitive husband-and-wife team wanted for murder and arson have been captured in Arizona, police said on Thursday, Sept. 12, nearly three weeks after they overpowered guards and escaped custody in Utah last month.

They were considered armed and dangerous.

Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, had been on the run since Aug. 26, when they broke free from two guards who were taking them from upstate New York to Tucson, Arizona to face murder charges over the killing of an elderly man and burning of his house last April.

The couple had driven the captured guards and another inmate in the transport vehicle to Arizona, where they commandeered a GMC Sierra pick-up truck, officials said earlier.

There were few details available about how the two were taken into custody by U.S. Marshals Service agents and Navajo County Sheriff’s deputies on Wednesday, police said.

The Navajo Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests early Thursday on its Facebook page, and said more information would be released to the public at a press conference in Phoenix later in the morning.

Blane Barksdale was recently added to the Marshals’ 15 Most Wanted list, with a $25,000 reward offered for information that leads to his capture, and $10,000 for Susan Barksdale’s arrest.

His wanted poster warned people not to be deceived by the appearance of the Barksdales.

“While they may look friendly, both have demonstrated a propensity for violence and should be considered armed and dangerous,” the wanted poster said.

Blane Barksdale was described as having Nazi swastika tattoos and the couple were said to be associated with white supremacy groups, and members of such groups may have been helping them hide out, officials said.

Representatives with the Marshals office and the Navajo County Sheriff’s office were not immediately available for comment to Reuters early Thursday.

Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59. Authorities believe husband and wife fugitives wanted in the killing an Arizona man have been able to stay under the radar for more than a week
Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59. Authorities believe husband and wife fugitives wanted in the killing an Arizona man have been able to stay under the radar for more than a week because they are getting help from multiple people. (U.S. Marshals Service via AP, File)

The Crime

In April, police responded to a fire that led to an explosion at Vietnam veteran Frank Bligh’s home.

But he and his vehicle were nowhere to be found, and investigators discovered evidence the fire was set intentionally and that Bligh had been killed, Tucson police said.

On May 1, an arrest warrant was issued for the Barksdales on charges including first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, arson and auto theft, police said.

But the Barksdales had fled the state, sparking a nationwide search. They were found in Henrietta, New York, a suburb of Rochester, and arrested without incident on May 24.

Bligh’s brother said the victim was good friends with Susan Barksdale but she had changed since meeting her new husband.

By Rich McKay

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.