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2 ‘dangerous’ escaped suspects might be traveling in Arizona

PHOENIX – Two “dangerous” suspects in a Tucson homicide case escaped from custody in Utah and could be traveling in Arizona, authorities said Tuesday.

Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, were in the process of being extradited from Henrietta, New York, to Pima County when they got away.

“This happened yesterday evening during transport near Blanding, Utah, where Blane and Susan Barksdale were able to overpower two security officers,” Francisco Magos of the Tucson Police Department told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Blanding is in southeast Utah, about 50 miles north of the Arizona border.

Blane is 6-foot-5 and approximately 260 pounds with brown eyes and multiple tattoos on his arms and hands. Susan is 5-foot-7 and 110 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes.

The Barksdales are suspects in the April 2019 killing of 72-year-old Frank Bligh.

They were last seen in a red GMC Sierra pickup with Arizona plates 127XTY. The truck had damage on the front passenger side and rear bumper.

“Blane and Susan Barksdale are believed to be armed and dangerous and should not be approached,” Magos said.

The U.S. Marshals Service on Wednesday offered rewards of up to $10,000 for each fugitive.

The FBI and Apache County Sheriff’s Office were taking part in the investigation along with the Marshals Service.

Anybody who spots the Barksdales or has information about their location was asked to call 911 or 520-88-CRIME (27463) or 800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).

The fugitives spent Sunday night in a county jail in Monticello, Utah, said San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson. Torgerson didn’t find until hours later about the escape in Blanding, about 20 miles south of the jail. He still doesn’t know exactly where or how it happened, he said.

The news caused some panic in the small city of 3,600 residents that the fugitives were loose in the community. A high school volleyball team sent team members home early Tuesday out of fear, he said.

Torgerson said they’ve since spread the word that the fugitives aren’t likely in Utah anymore, but he’s still asking county residents to be vigilant.

Law enforcement officials in Arizona said they had no details about the escape and referred inquiries to Security Transport Services, based in Topeka, Kansas. When reached by phone, an employee who declined to give her full name said the company expected to get more information from the two guards involved on Thursday.

The various agencies involved did not disclose whether the couple was restrained during their cross-country transport, why the route from New York passed through rural Utah or how they overtook the guards.

The Barksdales were arrested May 24 near Rochester, New York, on suspicion of first-degree murder and other crimes.

Tucson police say a fire followed by an explosion broke out in April at the home of Bligh. The 72-year-old’s car was found abandoned the next day.

While his body has not been found, investigators say evidence in the car indicated he was likely dead. The Barksdales were later identified as suspects.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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