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Digging Deeper: Reward offered for escapees wanted for murder

TUCSON – The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for each of the husband and wife team accused of killing an elderly man and then escaping from a transport van as they were being extradited to Pima County on Monday. Blane and Susan Barksdale remain on the loose. It all started back in April after an eastside house fire. Authorities attempted unsuccessfully to find 72-year old Frank Bligh who was the homeowner. Tucson police detectives determined foul play was involved after locating his vehicle the next day. Soon after, police arrested 30-year old Brent Mallard for setting Bligh’s house on fire. Mallard is Blane’s nephew. Evidence led to an arrest warrant for Blane and Susan Barksdale for murder. The couple was found nearly three weeks later holed up in an R-V in upstate New York. Earlier this week the couple escaped in Utah. The Barksdales are considered armed and dangerous. The Digging Deeper team uncovered there was a third inmate in the van who was being extradited to Pima County along with the Barksdales. His name isn’t being released because authorities told us he’s a victim of a kidnapping. Multiple sources confirmed the inmate told authorities he wanted no part of the escape. The three inmates were due into the Pima County Jail late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. Overhead freeway signs are posted throughout the interstate warning motorists. The victim’s brother, William Bligh, spoke to News 4 Tucson over the phone, he can’t believe the transport company let this happen. “I cannot understand why they would ever let the two of them travel together. I realize it was strictly to save money but look at the mess they’ve got now.” His brother’s body has never been found. He told News 4 Tucson,  “Blane had told Susan in prison or in jail in New York State that he was going to do things right for her and give up my brother’s location so it would help her with a lower sentence or something of that nature.” Bligh doesn’t believe that is going to happen now. He also said the connection between the Barksdales and his brother, was Susan. “My wife and I have known her for quite a few years. We’ve been to Tucson to my brother’s house she was there, very nice lady.” So when they heard Susan was involved in his brother’s murder he said it’s insane, and can’t believe it. They do believe the couple is armed and dangerous just like the police alerts say. “I imagine they took the weapons of the people who were transporting them. They stole all my brother’s guns and they could have stashed them somewhere.” His brother was a licensed gun collector and he said he had more than 100 guns in his home. All of them disappeared after the fire. As part of their investigation into Bligh’s death, Detectives served several search warrants at multiple locations. Including Bligh’s home on South Calexico, a property in Vernon, Arizona that’s outside Show Low. Among the items seized: A nine-millimeter pistol, Cash, a gas can and cell phones. Bligh said they’ve come to terms they’re never going to find his brother. As for his feelings about the Barksdales. “They’re taking up valuable air, they’re using air that good people on this planet could be using.” The Barksdales were last seen driving away in a  red GMC pick-up truck that has damage to the front passenger side and rear bumper. Again, they are considered armed and dangerous and are not to be approached. If you have any information on the whereabouts of the Barksdales call 88-CRIME.
Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.
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