Fugitive Arizona Couple Accused of Killing Veteran and Burning His Home Captured After Escape

An Arizona couple charged with killing a missing Vietnam veteran and setting his house on fire is back behind bars after 16 days on the run following their escape from custody.

Authorities re-arrested Blane and Susan Barksdale on Wednesday night in Punkin Center, Arizona, according to a social media post by the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office.

Described as armed and dangerous, the couple had been free since August 26 after allegedly overpowering two security guards in a private transport vehicle during a stop in Utah while being driven from New York to Arizona to face charges.

The pair are accused in the murder of Frank Bligh, 72, who has not been seen since a fire consumed his Tucson home back on April 16.

Investigators said Susan was an old acquaintance of the missing man, who was a Vietnam veteran in the Air Force Reserve, reports ABC News.

RELATED: ‘Armed and Dangerous’ Ariz. Couple Accused of Murdering Veteran Is Loose After Escaping Custody

In addition to murder, Blane, 56, and Susan, 59, are charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to Bligh’s home, as well as first-degree burglary, theft of means of transportation, criminal damage and prohibited possession, according to a previous statement from the U.S. Marshals Service.

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After the alleged killing, the couple fled to upstate New York, where U.S. Marshals with help from a SWAT team apprehended them.

A statement from Tucson Police had said the Barksdales were being driven back to Arizona in the private security van when they allegedly overpowered and restrained their two guards, a man and a woman, during a stop in Utah.

Blane, left, and Susan Barksdale

Blane, left, and Susan Barksdale

With the bound guards in the back of the van, the couple then allegedly continued to drive the vehicle into northeast Arizona ,where they abandoned it. The guards eventually managed to free themselves; a third prisoner being transported had also been left inside the locked van.

The fugitives allegedly stole $30 from the guards and, through a friend, acquired another vehicle in Arizona — a red GMC Sierra pickup truck — to resume their attempted getaway with at least a six- to seven-hour head start before authorities were alerted to look for them.

On Wednesday night, deputy marshals were following up a tip at a rural home north of Roosevelt Lake in Punkikn Center when Susan came outside, a source within the U.S. Marshals Service told Arizona’s Family. She said her husband was inside, and when he came out and was uncooperative, the marshals tased and arrested him.

Investigators at the scene of Bligh’s house fire suggested that more than 100 firearms were stolen from the property, according to Arizona’s Family, with only around 30 recovered so far.

Authorities planned to announce additional details at a news conference Thursday.


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