$20K Reward In Arizona Escapees Manhunt, Security Firm Suspended

TUCSON, AZ – The U.S. Marshals Service Wednesday ramped up the manhunt for Tucson murder suspect escapees Susan and Blane Barksdale when officials announced a $20,000 reward for the fugitives’ capture. Meanwhile, Pima County has suspended the contract of the prison transport company, pending further investigation, the Associated Press reports.

Fifty-nine-year-old Susan Barksdale and 56-year-old Blane Barksdale of Arizona are still on the run since overpowering security guards and escaping custody Monday night in Blanding, Utah during extradition to Pima County.

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They are suspects in the April murder of 72-year-old Frank Bligh in Tucson, among other alleged crimes.

As authorities continue to drill down on locating the Barksdales, the U.S. Marshals Service’s reward of $10K per suspect isn’t the only thing tightening the pressure on the runaways, The Associated Press reported. As of Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Transportation is posting signs on Arizona highways describing the last vehicle the suspects were seen in, a red GMC Sierra pickup, license plate No. 127XTY.

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department suspended the contract of Security Transport Services of Topeka, Kansas, the prison transport company that lost the Barksdales Monday, until further incident review occurs.

The couple were arrested in an RV on May 24 in Henrietta, New York, without incident, in conjunction with a May 1 arrest warrant for Bligh’s murder. On April 16, Bligh’s home had been set on fire, with the Barksdales’ nephew Brent Mallard arrested in Maricopa County in connection with the fire. Bligh was last seen at the Cowpony bar in Tucson about a week before the arson. Though Bligh’s body has never been located, he is presumed dead.

The Barksdales face charges of first-degree murder, arson, burglary, auto theft and felony criminal damage, while Mallard is being held on charges of arson and second-degree burglary, among other felony charges.

Authorities believe the Barksdales to be armed and dangerous. Anyone who spots them or has information on the case should call 911 or 88-CRIME.

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