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Husband and Wife murder suspects: Threats and a coded message

Claimed in Tucson Police reports
Posted at 7:34 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 21:34:52-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - We have new information in the case of a married couple charged with murder.

As Susan Barksdale was trying to co-operate with Tucson Police -- her husband Blane sent her a message---in code----demanding to know what she told detectives. That's part of what Tucson Police say in more than three hundred pages of reports KGUN9 obtained.

Frank Bligh disappeared last April. His house was burned. His car was abandoned and police say they found blood in the trunk.

By July U.S. Marshals had tracked down Blane and Susan Barksdale in New York State. They were jailed there while Arizona law enforcement was working to move them back to Tucson when Susan Barksdale decided she was ready to talk.

Tucson Police say Susan Barksdale left six voicemails from a jail in upstate New York before she reached detectives. Homicide Detective Josh Cheek reported: "Susan said she was done protecting this 'monster’ and she wanted to tell the truth about what happened."

Reports described Susan's long friendship with Frank Bligh and quoted his relatives as saying she wanted to marry him but he wasn't interested in marriage.

Susan and Blane Barksdale knew Bligh had a large collection of guns. Police say Susan told them Bligh wanted her to have the guns after his death but Blane wanted to steal the guns and sell them.

According to police she said she saw blood on the floor of Bligh's house and assumed Blane pushed Bligh down.

She says Blane pushed her face into Bligh's blood and demanded she clean it up with a carpet cleaner he bought from a nearby Walmart.

A third man confessed to setting fire to Bligh's house. Susan Barksdale says soon after that Blane abandoned Bligh's car near Sahuarita.

Tucson Police report the couple sold thousands of dollar worth of guns to a man near where they lived near Show Low. After police questioned them there, they allegedly bought an RV and left Arizona.

US Marshals found them and the RV in upstate New York. While jailed there awaiting extradition Susan contacted Tucson Police.

Police say Blane Barksdale made it clear to Susan he knew she was co-operating---and sent a letter in code using a simple encrytion method called the Caesar Cipher. Police say they de-coded it and read: "Need to know exactly what you said to Tucson detectives when they came here and also what you have said to the kids. Please don't think that I will be mad and not tell me something."

In the decoded note Barksdale goes on to say he is only planning their defense. But in other statements to police Susan Barksdale said he threatened her, her children, and her grandchildren.