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U.S. Marshals Release New Photos Of Fugitive Couple Who Tied Up Extradition Officers With Shoelaces
Susan Barksdale and Blane Barksdale are wanted for the murder of elderly Vietnam War veteran Frank Bligh.
Nearly a week after Blane Barksdale and Susan Barksdale overpowered security guards in Utah and escaped extradition to Arizona on murder charges, law enforcement has released new photographs of the Barksdales — but still have little clue as to where the husband and wife could be.
The Barksdales, accused of killing elderly veteran Frank Bligh and firebombing his Tuscon house in April, escaped private transport last week, and allegedly used shoelaces to tie up their captors who were escorting them back to Arizona.
The new photos, released by the U.S. Marshals over the weekend, show the couple at San Juan County Jail, where they had slept the night before making their brazen escape.
“These updated photos of Blane and Susan Barksdale were taken shortly before overpowering the transport team outside of Blanding, UT,” said U.S. Marshal David Gonzales in a statement posted to Twitter, according to ABC News.
“We are asking for anyone who knows of their whereabouts or sees them to call the [U.S. Marshal’s Service] or 9-1-1 immediately,” Gonzales added.
The U.S. Marshals, one of several law enforcement agencies assisting on the investigation, are offering $10,000 per fugitive for information leading to the couple’s arrest.
One of the grainy photos shows 56-year-old Blane, who allegedly has ties to the Aryan Brotherhood, in a white muscle shirt, with a shaved head and a goatee. Tattoos cover his arms. Police are banking on his tattoos and towering stature giving him away.
“Mr. Barksdale stands at six-foot-five and 260 [lbs.], so he should stand out,” Frank Magos, a spokesperson for the Tucson Police Department, told Oxygen.com.
The Barksdales have been charged with first degree murder, burglary, arson of an occupied structure, theft of means of transportation, criminal damage, and prohibited possession, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. The Barksdales fled Arizona and were arrested in New York in May, according to another statement posted by Tucson police last week.
It’s unclear how the couple overpowered the security guards tasked with transporting them, but the Barksdales allegedly made their getaway by faking an emergency, according to local outlet KVOA.
“We believe that they used some kind of medical emergency or medical bathroom break for them pull to side of the road,” Gonzalez said, according to the outlet. “And once they got over to the side of the road, they were able to overpower them, bind them. And threw them in the back of the van they were in."
The fugitive couple used shoelaces to bind the hands of the guards, who were found in the back of a transport vehicle, which police say the couple later dumped in northern Arizona, ABC News reports.
There was a fifth passenger — another prisoner — who remained in the transport van, according to PEOPLE.
The husband and wife’s escape allegedly went undetected for six or seven hours, giving them a significant jump on law enforcement. They’re believed to be somewhere in Arizona and were last seen driving a red GMC Sierra pickup truck with the license plates 127 XTY. Police say the front passenger side and rear bumper of the truck are damaged.
“We’re not ruling out any locations,” Magos added. “Our investigators do have information leading them to believe that the Barksdales are traveling through Arizona.”
Bligh’s body hasn’t been found after his house was firebombed in April. Police later discovered his vehicle in the desert. Brent Mallard, the Barksdales' nephew, allegedly assisted in setting the blaze at Bligh’s home, as well as detonating explosives.
He was charged with arson, burglary while knowingly possessing explosives, a deadly weapon, or dangerous instrument, as well as criminal damage, according to a separate indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
Bligh, a 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran, lived by himself and was a friend of Susan’s, PEOPLE reports.