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Fugitives who escaped from guards in Utah captured in Arizona, authorities say

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Updated - Sep 12th, 2019 @ 1:01pm | Posted - Sep 12th, 2019 @ 7:27am



SALT LAKE CITY — A fugitive couple who escaped from authorities in Utah by faking a medical emergency have been captured in Arizona after a weeks-long search.

Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, were located Wednesday evening, according to a Facebook post from the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office. They were taken into custody without incident, the sheriff’s office said.

The couple was located at the home of an acquaintance in Punkin Center, a small community in Gila County northeast of Phoenix, according to David Gonzales, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona. They were booked into prison in Florence, Arizona, Gonzales said at a Phoenix press conference on Thursday.

The U.S. Marshals Service processed hundreds of leads and tips about the Barksdales, one of which was regarding an acquaintance of the Barksdales who lives in Punkin Center, according to Gonzales.

Wednesday evening, authorities surrounded the acquaintance's home — a modular home with several trailers on an acre of property — and told the occupants to come out, Gonzales said. The owner of the home came out, followed by Susan Barksdale about 5 minutes later, he said. She confirmed that Blane Barksdale was also in the home.

Five to 10 minutes after that, Blane Barksdale came out of the home, Gonzales said. He initially was compliant with officers' orders but became verbally abusive, and officers eventually used a Taser to take him into custody, Gonzales said.

Blane and Susan Barksdale were on the FBI’s 15 most wanted fugitives list, according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The two escaped from two private security officers in Blanding, Utah, on Aug. 26 after Susan Barksdale faked a medical emergency. She pretended to have an “intestinal issue,” and the guards pulled over the transport van, according to Gonzales. When the male and female guards opened the rear door of the van, the Barksdales charged them, Gonzales told the Associated Press last month.

The guards weren’t injured, but the Barksdales took a key, bound the guards with shoelaces, and put them in the back of the van, along with a third prisoner, according to Gonzales. They then drove the van to Vernon, Arizona, nearly 300 miles south of Blanding, Gonzales said.

In Arizona, the Barksdales met up with a friend, who gave them access to his truck, Gonzales said. They then went their separate ways, with the Barksdales taking off with the money that was in the guards’ wallets. The van was abandoned near St. Johns, Arizona, northeast of Vernon.

As of Thursday, authorities still hadn't located the friend's truck, Gonzales said.

Authorities believed the Barksdales were getting help to remain hidden until they were found Wednesday.

Their acquaintance in Punkin Center has a background in drugs, and was on federal probation for sales of methamphetamine, according to Gonzales.

The Barksdales were originally being transported from Henrietta, New York, to Pima County, Arizona. They were arrested in connection with the homicide of 72-year-old Frank Bligh, who was killed April 16 in Tucson, Arizona, according to the Tucson Police Department.

The Barksdales have an initial court appearance in Phoenix scheduled for Thursday, Gonzales said.


Editor's note: A previous version said the Barksdales were located in Navajo County, Arizona. It has been updated to clarify that they were found in Gila County, Arizona.

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