The US Marshals said that two fugitives who are wanted for murder are potentially being helped by a white supremacist group after the couple overpowered security officers and escaped custody at the end of August.
The pair are still on the run as of September 10th, and the manhunt is heating up.
MSN reported that the US Marshals Service has added 56-year-old Blane Barksdale to their list of the 15 most wanted suspects in the country.
The couple escaped justice as they were being extradited from New York to face charges of arson, burglary and murder after investigators say they killed Vietnam veteran Frank Bligh and then fled the state. The couple faked a medical emergency to get guards who were transporting the Barksdales to pull over. Then they managed to overpower the officers, threw them in the back and then took off in the van.
Officials believe that Susan and Blane drove the van to a low traffic area of Arizona, where they met up with another person and got a new vehicle. The officers were still tied up in the back of the van when the couple ditched it.
Hours later, the guards managed to escape their bonds and call for help, notifying the Apache County Sheriff’s Department. By the time local authorities were tipped off, the Barksdales had already gotten a six-hour head start.
On Monday, US Marshal for the district of Arizona David Gonzales said the fugitives may be getting help in hiding from the Aryan Brotherhood, a known group of white supremacists.
“Somebody like Blane in prison — with both local — with both state and federal prison, would be associated with Aryan Brotherhoods, white supremacist gangs. So those are the type of individuals we think that might be assisting,” Gonzales said. “I don’t think there’s a question that there are people that are assisting in harboring these individuals, and it is a felony.”
LATEST: Blane Barksdale — the accused murderer who escaped federal custody with his wife — is now among the U.S. Marshals’ top 15 most wanted fugitives. https://t.co/Wa2su1ILyh pic.twitter.com/Yh1IchyTaF
— KGUN9 On Your Side (@kgun9) September 9, 2019
The Marshals are offering a $25,000 reward for information that led to the capture of Blane Barksdale and a $10,000 reward for help arresting Susan.
“Persons placed on the US Marshals top 15 list are usually career criminals with histories of violence, and whose incident offenses pose a significant threat to public safety. Blane Barksdale has the dubious distinction of fulfilling that requirement,” Gonzales said.
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He said that he did not believe that the couple had crossed over into Mexico and the chase will continue.
The couple was last seen driving a red GMC Sierra pickup with damage to the front passenger side and rear bumper. Blane Barksdale was described as having tattoos on his arms and hands.
Back in April, police responded to calls of an explosion that had gone off in a Tucson home. When they arrived, they discovered that the fire inside had been set intentionally and the homeowner, Bligh, had been killed. Police said that Bligh’s vehicle was missing.
@usmarshalsHQ received new photos in the search for fugitives, Blane Barksdale, 56, & Susan Barksdale, 59. These were taken at San Juan County Jail the night before their escape. If you know of their whereabouts or see them call the U.S. Marshals Service or 911 immediately! pic.twitter.com/6Cm5GAGzQX
— U.S. Marshals (@USMarshalsHQ) September 1, 2019
After discovering evidence that pointed toward Blane and Susan Barksdale, a felony arrest warrant was issued for the couple, citing charges of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, arson of an occupied structure, felony criminal damage and theft.
The couple had fled the state and a nationwide manhunt was set in motion to try and bring the accused killers to justice. They were eventually captured in New York on May 24 without incident thanks to “incredible, diligent police work,” Tucson police confirmed.
“This is another example of the excellent cooperation between local law enforcement and our federal partners,” Monroe County Undersheriff Korey K. Brown said back in May. “Two dangerous, violent individuals were taken off the streets and will face justice.”
But now those same individuals are on the run again, and it’s unknown when or where they’ll turn up. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the US Marshals.
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