Arizona couple to spend combined 27 years in prison in 2019 Tucson murder case

May 2, 2022, 6:55 AM

FILE - These photos provided by the Navajo County Sheriff's Office show Blane, left, and Susan Bark...

FILE - These photos provided by the Navajo County Sheriff's Office show Blane, left, and Susan Barksdale. A tip pointing to a remote Arizona community is what led to the end of a manhunt for the fugitives, who overpowered their guards and escaped prison transport last month, authorities said Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Navajo County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(Navajo County Sheriff's Office via AP)

TUCSON, Ariz. — An Arizona couple who prompted a nationwide manhunt in 2019 after escaping from custody have both been sentenced in a Tucson murder case.

Pima County prosecutors said Blane Barksdale, who turns 59 next month, received a 22-year prison term Friday while his wife got a five-year sentence. Both were credited with almost three years already served.

The couple was charged in the disappearance of 72-year-old Frank Bligh, whose Tucson home burned down in an April 2019 explosion and fire.

Blane Barksdale pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and as part of a plea agreement, prosecutors said he had to tell Tucson police where Bligh’s body was buried. It was found four months ago in a wilderness area.

Susan Barksdale, who is in her early 60s, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case.

Prosecutors said the couple befriended Bligh and then pawned some of his gun collection after he was killed.

U.S. Marshals found and arrested the Barksdales in upstate New York in May 2019, but they escaped three months later in Utah from a prisoner transport van that was bringing them back to Tucson to face charges.

Federal authorities located the couple 16 days later some 90 miles northeast of Phoenix and rearrested them.

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Arizona couple to spend combined 27 years in prison in 2019 Tucson murder case