STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Murder suspects escaped custody by faking an emergency

A husband and wife who face charges for killing a 72-year-old man overpowered two security officers and escaped in Blanding, Utah, police said.

Posted: Aug 29, 2019 11:50 AM
Updated: Aug 29, 2019 11:50 AM

A married couple wanted for murder escaped custody in southern Utah by faking a medical emergency, according to the US Marshals Service.

"We believe that they used some kind of a medical emergency or medical bathroom break for them to pull over to the side of the road," said David Gonzales, US Marshal for the district of Arizona. "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."

Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59 escaped custody Monday night as they were being transported from Henrietta, New York, to Pima County, Arizona. They were being extradited to face charges of arson, burglary and murder in connection with the death of Frank Bligh, a 72-year-old Vietnam veteran who was killed in April in Tucson, Arizona.

Their escape set off a manhunt across the Southwest, and the US Marshals Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for each for information leading to their arrest.

After the couple tied up the male and female guard in the back of the van, they drove to a remote area in northeast Arizona to meet with another person and get a new vehicle. The Barksdales then drove to an isolated area and left the van and the guards behind.

The guards managed to free themselves after a few hours, and they notified the Apache County Sheriff's Department, Gonzales said. By that time, the Barksdales had been gone for about six hours.

"We are trying to make up for lost time," Gonzales said.

Tucson police said the Barksdales are armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Gonzales said he was particularly concerned because the couple need money and perhaps another vehicle.

On Tuesday, Tucson Police said the couple's direction of travel is unknown, but investigators have information that they are possibly traveling through Arizona.

They were last seen driving a red GMC Sierra pickup, Arizona license plate No. 127XTY, with damage to the front passenger side and rear bumper, police said. Blane Barksdale has numerous tattoos on his arms and hands.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department suspended its use of Security Transport Services, the company tasked with moving the suspects across the country, pending a review of the incident.

Suspected of a fire and a murder

The investigation into the couple began in April when police responded to a fire that led to an explosion at Bligh's home. But he and his vehicle were nowhere to be found, and investigators discovered evidence that the fire was set intentionally, and that Bligh had been killed, Tucson police said.

On May 1, an arrest warrant was issued for the Barksdales on charges including first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, arson and auto theft, police said.

But the Barksdales had fled the state, sparking a nationwide search. They were found in Henrietta, New York, a suburb of Rochester, and arrested without incident on May 24, Tucson Police said on May 24.

Bligh was a veteran of the Vietnam War and was in the Air Force Reserves after the war, the victim's brother William Bligh said. He said that his brother and Susan Barksdale were good friends, but she had changed since meeting her new husband.

CNN was not able to identify an attorney for the couple.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 513622

Reported Deaths: 10264
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34892556
DeSoto33234432
Hinds32638641
Jackson24854389
Rankin22507403
Lee16337242
Madison14922283
Jones14113247
Forrest13766259
Lauderdale12270324
Lowndes11305193
Lamar10659140
Pearl River9719244
Lafayette8846143
Hancock7836132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7210138
Monroe7010179
Pontotoc6990109
Warren6863178
Panola6759134
Neshoba6730210
Marshall6678141
Bolivar6445151
Union638297
Pike5928156
Alcorn5879107
Lincoln5530136
George510180
Prentiss503884
Tippah491482
Itawamba4844107
Scott477899
Adams4768125
Tate4756116
Leflore4729144
Copiah456495
Yazoo456491
Simpson4546117
Wayne443072
Covington433695
Sunflower4299106
Marion4277112
Coahoma4237109
Leake413990
Newton395781
Tishomingo383593
Grenada3777109
Stone365866
Jasper340666
Attala338290
Winston317892
Chickasaw315467
Clay312278
Clarke301195
Calhoun285049
Holmes271889
Smith269052
Yalobusha243947
Tallahatchie231553
Greene224749
Walthall221666
Lawrence218740
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster205348
Noxubee188742
Montgomery181657
Carroll174541
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152939
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134338
Humphreys131239
Franklin125529
Quitman107628
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65221
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845284

Reported Deaths: 16116
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161552006
Mobile742111380
Madison53307732
Shelby38338368
Baldwin38085589
Tuscaloosa36022641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25562263
Calhoun22586518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20018517
Marshall18782316
Houston17731425
St. Clair16884358
Limestone16148218
Cullman16054303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14989306
Talladega14196299
DeKalb12972269
Walker12030380
Blount10717192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10162194
Coffee9417192
Colbert9342208
Dale9020191
Tallapoosa7256201
Russell708165
Chilton7018170
Escambia6957143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5406130
Dallas5285209
Pike5119109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369580
Butler3435100
Marengo342493
Monroe337266
Randolph334867
Pickens333188
Fayette330385
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317863
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244864
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 34°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 30°
Oxford
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 27°
High pressure will continue to control our weather forecast for the next several days. This will keep our area filled with plenty of sunshine. We will see both daytime highs and overnight lows gradually get milder and warmer.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather