Husband in Arizona fugitive couple added to nationwide most wanted list
PHOENIX — Authorities have heightened the search for an Arizona murder suspect who escaped custody with his wife in late August.
Blane Barksdale was added to the U.S. Marshals’ 15 most wanted list and had the reward for his capture increased from $10,000 to $25,000, the department announced Monday.
Barksdale and his wife, Susan, have evaded police since Aug. 26 when they overpowered two guards in Utah and took control of a prison transport van that was delivering them to Tucson.
The Barksdales are the primary suspects in the April death of a 72-year-old Tucson man. In May, they were arrested in upstate New York.
“The couple’s alleged blatant disregard for human life and the law have made them both a priority for us,” U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington said in a press release. “We believe this elevation and the public’s vigilance will ultimately result in their apprehension.”
The fugitives were last seen driving a red GMC Sierra pickup truck, but David Gonzales, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM it’s unlikely they are still using the pickup.
Gonzales said they’ve gotten tips that the Barksdales could be situated near Snowflake in Eastern Arizona, but haven’t been able to substantiate any of them.
“We’ve had no solid leads about where they might be,” Gonzales said during a press conference Monday.
A private transport company hired by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office was tasked with bringing the Barksdales back to southern Arizona.
Susan Barksdale pretended to have an “intestinal issue” to get the van to pull over after it departed from Blanding, Utah.
The guards were unarmed and did not feel the need to take a handgun that was inside a locked box, Gonzalez said. But the Barksdales charged at them once they opened the rear compartment, he said. The male and female guards weren’t physically injured, but the Barksdales used shoelaces to bind them and then put them in the back with a third inmate. They also took a key to free themselves of a waist restraint.
The Barksdales drove the van to the town of Vernon, Arizona, where they met up with a friend who gave them access to his pickup truck.
From there, each drove away in a vehicle for about 40 miles and abandoned the van near St. Johns.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Office announced last month it had suspended use of the Kansas-based transport company, Security Transport Services.
The reward for the arrest of Susan Barksdale remained $10,000.
Blane Barksdale is described as 6-foot-5, 265 pounds with blue eyes and a shaved head. He also has tattoos all over his arms including of swastikas.
Susan Barksdale is 5-foot-7, 110 pounds with blonde and gray hair and blue eyes. Both are considered armed and dangerous.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Amy Phol and The Associated Press contributed to this report.