Fugitive couple who overpowered guards captured in Arizona

By David Schwartz
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Fugitive couple who overpowered guards captured in Arizona

Blane Barksdale, 56, is pictured in Tucson, Arizona, U.S. in this handout photo

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A fugitive husband-and-wife team wanted for murder and arson have been captured in Arizona, police said on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the couple overpowered guards and escaped custody in Utah.

They were considered armed and dangerous and police officers said they had to use a Taser and a nonlethal "bean bag" round on the husband to bring him into custody.

Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, had been on the run since Aug. 26, when they broke free from two guards who were taking them from upstate New York to Tucson, Arizona, to face murder charges over the killing of an elderly man and burning of his house last April.

The couple had driven the captured guards and another inmate in the transport vehicle to Arizona, where they commandeered a GMC Sierra pickup truck, officials said earlier. The guards were tied up and alerted authorities once they broke free.

The Barksdales were captured near Punkin Center, a remote town around 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Phoenix, at the home of a man with a criminal record for drug sales, said David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona.

Responding to a tip that the two had an acquaintance in the area, police surrounded the residence located on an acre lot.

The home's owner came out first, followed by Susan Barksdale, both surrendering to police peacefully, Gonzales said by phone.

Blane Barksdale did not follow officers' commands when he emerged from the residence and became verbally abusive, police said.

Officers Tasered him and shot the "bean bag" round at his leg to bring him into custody, Gonzales said, adding there were no injuries involved with the arrests.

Blane Barksdale was recently added to the Marshals' 15 Most Wanted list, with a $25,000 reward offered for information that led to his capture, and $10,000 for Susan Barksdale's arrest.

Police are now working with the FBI to prosecute individuals who helped or harbored the Barksdales, Gonzales said.

Blane Barksdale was described as having Nazi swastika tattoos and the couple were said to be associated with white supremacy groups, and members of such groups may have been helping them hide out, officials said.


(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta Editing by Alex Richardson and Matthew Lewis)