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Marshals Capture Arizona Fugitive

John McCluskey is shown being taken into custody Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010 by U.S. Marshals in eastern  Arizona. McCluskey and his fiancee Casslyn Welch have been on the lam since July 30. They’d been sought in the Inland Northwest and Northwest Montana and Canada. Both were apprehended at an eastern  Arizona campground on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Story here. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Office)

Question: Does this photo meet Cindy’s never-ending demands for beefcate?

INW Headlines — 8.18.10

These undated photos show Arizona prison inmate John McCluskey. The search for McCluskey and Casslyn Welch, who helped him and two murder suspects escape, is still focused on western  Montana and the northwestern U.S. and Canada. The last credible sighting of Casslyn Welch and John McCluskey was on Aug. 6 in Billings, Mont. The couple are likely still traveling in a gold, tan or gray 1997 Nissan Sentra. Story here. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service)

Fugitive was drug mule for racist group

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona fugitive’s accomplice was acting as a drug mule for a white supremacy group and agreed to become a police informant weeks before she helped him escape from prison, authorities said today.

Casslyn Welch, and her fiance and cousin John McCluskey, are now considered among the most wanted fugitives in America after authorities say Welch helped McCluskey and two other men escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman by throwing wire cutters over a fence. Daniel Renwick and Tracy Province have since been captured.

Welch was visiting McCluskey at the medium-security prison in June when a random search of Welch and her vehicle turned up marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia, Mohave County sheriff’s spokeswoman Trish Carter said. 

Welch wasn’t jailed because she agreed to become an informant, and she provided information about the suppliers of the drugs, Carter said.

Welch told investigators she was being paid by members or associates of supremacists to smuggle heroin into the prison as she had successfully done three times before, but she declined to say who the items were intended for at the prison.

Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal for Arizona, said authorities believe Welch and McCluskey have minimal ties to white supremacy groups in or out of prisons and “we’re not expending much resources on that right now.”

Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

Arizona prison escapee could be ‘anywhere’

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The trail has gone cold in the search for an escaped Arizona inmate and his suspected accomplice, with baffled federal authorities saying they have no idea where the couple is and warning travelers stopping at campgrounds and truck stops to be alert.

John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch, two of the most wanted fugitives in America, are unpredictable and have long-haul truck driving experience, meaning they are used to driving long distances over short time periods, Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. Marshal for Arizona, said Thursday. Their route has crossed more than 1,900 miles from their July 30 escape from a medium security prison in Arizona to the last concrete sighting in Billings, Mont., last Friday

“At this point in time, because they move so quickly and easily, we have no idea,” Rivera said. “In two-and-a-half days they could have traversed the entire United States. They can be anywhere.”

Marshals are asking travelers at truck stops along highways and in campgrounds across the nation to watch out for the couple, who may have dyed their hair and otherwise changed their appearance. They may be sleeping in campgrounds and using truck stops to clean up as they travel in a 1997 Nissan Sentra that has been described separately as gray, gold and tan, Rivera said.

Authorities believe McCluskey, 45, and Welch, his 44-year-old cousin and fiancee, are dangerous and have been paying for their getaway by robbing businesses along the way. They and fellow escaped convict Tracy Province, who split from the group and was arrested in Wyoming on Sunday, also are suspects in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple whose burned bodies were discovered last week in eastern New Mexico.

“We’re concerned that these individuals will commit more crimes,” Rivera said. “They’re desperate. These guys are not thinking rationally.” Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

Aug 10: Do the Arizona escapees have Aryan ties?

Aug. 11: Hunt for prison escapees turns cold in Arkansas

Hunt for escapees turns cold in Arkansas

GENTRY, Ark. (AP) — They fancy themselves a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde who pulled off a brazen prison escape in Arizona and allegedly went on a bloody, multistate crime spree. They have dyed their hair and stuck to out-of-the-way places to avoid drawing attention to themselves. 

 John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch have become two of the most-wanted fugitives in America over the past two weeks as they traversed far-off towns across the West and eluded capture at every turn.

On Wednesday, the manhunt shifted from the wild, open lands of northern Montana near the Canadian border to a tiny town in the Arkansas Ozarks where McCluskey and Welch were briefly suspected of robbing a beauty salon.

Investigators later said they believe someone else carried out the heist.

Benton County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Doug Gay said photographs and descriptions of the suspects give authorities in Gentry “no reason to believe these are those individuals.”

It was the latest maddening turn in the manhunt. 

Investigators had thought they may have boxed in the escaped Arizona inmate and his fiancee — who is also his cousin — near Glacier National Park in recent days.

Federal, state and local authorities began checking vehicles at the border and patrolling tiny towns near the park on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were notified as well.

But the leads that put the couple in Montana have been getting stale, with the last possible sighting on Sunday. Then a beauty store owner hundreds of miles away in Gentry got robbed at gunpoint and tied up by two people matching the couple’s description.

Dozens of officers from various law enforcement agencies descended on Gentry just at the suggestion earlier that the fugitive couple could have committed the robbery, and Gay said their extensive search would continue.

He acknowledged McCluskey and Welch could be anywhere, including Arkansas.

“They could be in Las Vegas, Nevada, they could be in Akron, Ohio,” he said.

Do the Arizona escapees have Aryan ties?

Two convicted killers who escaped from an Arizona prison are reported by CNN to be members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, and federal authorities say the men “may have been trying to reach fellow believers in the Northwest.”

But the search for the remaining fugitive and his cousin/fiancee appears to be focused on western Montana and southwest Canada, and federal authorities in Spokane offered no further information today.

“We have received no information that we’re able to pass along at this time,” said a deputy U.S. marshal. 

Meanwhile, authorities said the only remaining escapee, John McCluskey (right), and his suspected accomplice, Casslyn Welch (left), fashion themselves a present-day “Bonnie and Clyde.”

U.S. marshals said there have been reports that Welch was spotted Sunday at a restaurant in St. Mary, Mont., near Glacier National Park. Montana’s acting marshal, Rod Ostermiller, said there were multiple other tips from the Glacier area, but he didn’t say whether any included sightings of McCluskey.

Ten miles north of St. Mary, residents of Babb have been frightened by the presence of police cars patrolling the streets. The town of 700 normally sees a patrol car every other week, said Tedi Burns, a bartender at the Babb Bar Cattle Baron Supper Club.

“This is a small town and nobody can find them,” said Burns, 19. “They could be hiding in the woods. We have mountains around us. We have a bunch of backwoods they could be hiding around.”

Another prisoner who escaped with McCluskey, 42-year-old Tracy Province, waived his right to fight extradition to Arizona.

Province (left) appeared in court in Cody on Tuesday, one day after he was captured as he walked in sleepy Meeteetse, Wyo., steps from a church where he sat in the pews a day earlier and sang “Your Grace Is Enough.”

A woman he talked to after church recognized him from a photograph shown on television, but he went undetected at one of the town’s two bars the night before, even though his photo was broadcast on The Cowboy Bar’s television during the news.

Owner Jim Blake recalled Province staring straight at the TV screen but Blake said no one “put it together” because the photo wasn’t a good likeness.

Butch Cassidy was arrested at the bar before being sent to prison in 1894 and Blake said Province was interested in hearing outlaw stories. He also talked about getting work as a ranch hand.

“To tell you the truth, I realize he’s a terrible person, but he actually was a pretty friendly fellow,” Blake said. “He actually was a pretty nice guy.”

Rancher Tim Gould, the treasurer at the church, told NBC’s “Today” that Province told him he was trying to get to Indianapolis, where he was from, but didn’t have enough money.

The church paid him $40 to mow the lawn and cut weeds.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.