Marshal: Fugitive couple likely getting help to stay hidden

TERRY TANG
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Murder Suspects Escape

FILE - These undated file booking photos provided by the Tucson Police Department show 56-year-old Blake Barksdale, left, and his 59-year-old wife Susan Barksdale. Authorities believe that the fugitive couple wanted in a killing in Arizona is getting help staying missing. U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales said Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 that deputy marshals are looking at several persons of interest in the search for the couple. U.S. Marshals, the FBI and other agencies have been sifting through hundreds of tips since the pair overtook a prison transport van Aug. 26 outside of St. Johns, Ariz. (Tucson Police Department via AP, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities believe husband and wife fugitives wanted in the killing an Arizona man have been able to stay under the radar for more than a week because they are getting help from multiple people.

David Gonzales, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona, said Tuesday that deputy marshals are looking at several possible persons of interest in the search for Blane Barksdale and Susan Barksdale.

"The other major piece of it is there are people we believe that are assisting in harboring them," Gonzales said. "It is illegal obviously to harbor fugitives and anybody that does harbor the Barksdales, we will prosecute them also."

Marshals, the FBI and other agencies have been sifting through hundreds of tips since the pair overpowered two guards more than a week ago in Utah and took control of a prison transport van delivering them to Tucson.

Tucson police identified Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, as the primary suspects in the April death of a 72-year-old man. They were found in upstate New York in May and subsequently arrested.

On the afternoon of Aug. 26, their transport van left Blanding, Utah, when Susan Barksdale faked a medical emergency, according to Gonzales. The accompanying male and female guards, who were unarmed, pulled the vehicle over. The couple used the opportunity to overwhelm them and tie them up with shoelaces. A third prisoner was also present, but authorities say he was not involved.

From there, the duo drove the van and stopped just outside St. Johns, Arizona. Gonzales says they obtained a red GMC Sierra pickup truck from a friend and drove both cars in tandem. After a short time, they abandoned the prison van and took off in the pickup. It took the guards, who were not injured, more than two hours to free themselves.

Gonzales believes it's unlikely the Barksdales are still using the pickup. He instructed state transportation officials Monday night to stop flashing alerts with the car's license plate on digital signs. The truck's owner, who Gonzales did not identify, will likely face prosecution once the couple is found.

Law enforcement agencies have also been coordinating with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in case the couple is heading to Mexico, Gonzales said. But he believes they are still somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico.

"They're gonna get caught. It's just a matter of time when," Gonzales said.

Blane Barksdale is described as 6-foot-5 (1.8-meter-13 centimeters), 265 pounds (120 kilograms) with blue eyes and a shaved head. He also has tattoos all over his arms including of swastikas. Susan Barksdale is 5-foot-7 (1.8-meter-18 centimeters), 110 pounds (50 kilograms) with blonde and gray hair and blue eyes. Both are considered armed and dangerous.