Manhunt Continues for Arizona Murder Suspects Who Escaped in southern Utah
Authorities continue to search for clues on how an Arizona couple suspected of murder were able to overpower guards, escape a transport vehicle bringing them across the country and evade a massive manhunt.
The U.S. Marshals Service has been poring through dozens of tips since Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, fled in Blanding, Utah on Monday. The agency is hoping to get more information by offering $20,000 in reward money — $10,000 per fugitive — for tips that lead to their capture.
While it wasn't clear if the couple had weapons or had taken any from the guards, authorities warn that people should consider them armed and dangerous. They somehow overpowered two guards in a prison transport company vehicle on the way from upstate New York to southern Arizona and escaped in southern Utah.
Authorities believe they may be driving through Arizona, and they were last seen in a Red GMC pickup. Digital signs on highways throughout the state flashed alerts about the outlaw couple.
Meanwhile, the Pima County Sheriff's Department says it will halt use of Security Transport Services pending a review.
The county has contracted the Topeka, Kansas-based company's services since 2016 and it has transported about 70 inmates this year at the cost of $88,500.
Blane Barksdale is described as having numerous tattoos on his arms and hands.
The law enforcement agencies looking for the couple, including the FBI, did not say whether the couple was restrained during their cross-country transport, why the route from New York passed through rural Utah or how they overtook the guards.
The fugitives spent Sunday night in a county jail in Monticello, Utah, San Juan County Sheriff Jason Torgerson said. Torgerson didn't find out until hours later about the escape in Blanding, about 20 miles south of the jail. He still doesn't know exactly where or how it happened, he said.
The news caused some panic in the small city of 3,600 residents. A high school volleyball team sent players home early Tuesday, fearing the fugitives were loose in the community, Torgerson said. He said authorities have since spread the word that the fugitives aren't likely in Utah anymore, but he's still asking residents to be vigilant.