GILA COUNTY — A couple suspected in the murder of a Tucson man who escaped a prison transport van on August 26 were captured last night in Tonto Basin.
Blane and Susan Barksdale, whom local authorities had been searching for in Navajo and Apache counties, were found hiding out in a residence in the Tonto National Forest according to an early morning news report.
The Barksdales may have been assisted by members of the white supremacist group, the Aryan Brotherhood, or perhaps the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, but this has not been confirmed.
The Independent was contacted by the Navajo County Sheriff's Office at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday evening to confirm the outlaws had been taken into custody, but no details were available at that time. The Navajo County Sheriff's Office assisted with the arrest, which occurred without incident.
The Barksdales were wanted in connection with the disappearance and suspected death of 72 year-old Frank Bligh, who disappeared in April. Bligh's home was set on fire, and his body has not been found. The Barksdales may have stolen as many as 100 guns from the residence. Brent Mallard, a nephew of Blake Barksdale, is being held in connection with the incident.
Blane Barksdale was placed on the 15 Most Wanted List on Monday, and a reward totaling $35,000 was offered for the arrest of the couple. How authorities located the couple and whether the reward led to their capture is unclear.
The U.S. Marshal's plan to host a press conference later this morning, when more details about the couple's capture will likely be released.