Fugitive couple facing murder charges are in custody

The married couple accused of killing a 72-year-old man and then escaping as they were being transported from New York to Arizona to face charges has been taken into custody.

Blane and Susan Barksdale were located and arrested without incident by the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and the US Marshals Service, the Sheriff’s Department announced on its Facebook page late Wednesday. The sheriff’s department did not provide details about when, how or where the couple was taken into custody.

Blane Barksdale had been on the Marshals Service’s list of the 15 most wanted fugitives since Monday.

“Persons placed on the US Marshals top 15 list are usually career criminals with histories of violence, and whose incident offenses pose a significant threat to public safety,” US Marshal for the district of Arizona David Gonzales said Monday. “Blane Barksdale has the dubious distinction of fulfilling that requirement.”

The couple escaped custody in late August as they were being extradited on charges of arson, burglary and murder in connection with the death of a Vietnam veteran in Tuscon, Arizona. They used a medical emergency to get the guards to pull over and then threw them in the back of the van, Gonzales said.

While on the run, they might have been getting help from white supremacists, Gonzales said at a news conference Monday.

“Somebody like Blane in prison — with both local — with both state and federal prison, would be associated with Aryan Brotherhoods, white supremacist gangs. So those are the type of individuals we think that might be assisting,” Gonzales said.

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.

CNN was not able to identify an attorney for the couple.

 

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