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Arizona murder suspects caught after escaping transport from Upstate NY

12 September 2019

They were in transit back to their home state from upstate NY when they overpowered two security officers in Blanding, Utah.

The Barksdales are charged in the Arizona murder of Frank Bligh, 72, whose body has not been found.

Officials with the Navajo County Sheriff's Office in Arizona say the Barksdales were located Wednesday evening and taken into custody without incident.

The suspects were initially arrested May 24 in upstate NY and charged with first-degree murder, burglary, arson and auto theft in connection with the disappearance of Frank Bligh, 72, who was reported missing following the April 16 fire and explosion at his Tucson home. "The Navajo County Sheriff's Office assisted the US Marshall's Service in capturing the fugitives this evening".

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Spectrum News reports Blane and Susan Barkdale spent most of the summer at the Monroe County Jail in Rochester after being caught in May.

Late last month as the couple was being transported back to Arizona, Susan Barksdale faked an illness to get the van they were in to stop, officials have said.

Authorities previously said they believe couple was receiving help - from biker gangs or white supremacist groups - to elude capture.

He said at a Monday news conference that the marshals were changing their strategy, after a fruitless search for the couple for two weeks.

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"Instead of having 40, 50 police officers, agents on the ground, we're going to pull back a little bit, reset our investigation, go over other leads", Gonzales said Monday, two days before the couple was captured. They then abandoned the van with the three locked inside and somehow evaded a sweeping manhunt conducted by multiple agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the report said. They then abandoned the van with their three prisoners inside.

The guards, a male and female, were unarmed and didn't feel the need to take a handgun that was inside a locked box when they went to open the rear compartment of the van, authorities say. Police said they may have stolen a cache of almost 100 guns before setting fire to his house, causing an explosion.

The Barksdales took the van and headed for Vernon, Ariz., a town so small it doesn't have a police force.

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Arizona murder suspects caught after escaping transport from Upstate NY