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Armed and Dangerous: Tucson fugitives still at large

New details on escape and investigation
Posted at 12:51 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 22:49:13-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Armed -- dangerous -- and still on the run from law enforcement.

A Tucson couple overpowered security officers -- bringing them back to Tucson -- to face murder charges.

KGUN9 has confirmed two guards were overpowered in Utah, but fugitives and the guards continued on in the prisoner transfer van until they reached St Johns Arizona. Authorities say there, the Barksdales left the van and the guards behind, and escaped in a pick up truck.

Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, are wanted in connection with the April murder of 72-year-old Frank Bligh.

Police say the Barksdales overpowered two security officers in Blanding, Utah Monday. They were being extradited from Henrietta, New York.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department confirms the couple was being transported from another state by a private company — Security Transportation Service (STS) — contracted by PCSD. The contract is through Pima County Procurement.

The Barksdales were last seen driving a red GMC Sierra pickup truck, with Arizona license plate number 127XTY, with a damaged front passenger side and rear bumper. They are believed to be traveling through Arizona.

Police consider the Barksdales armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees the Barksdales should not approach them. Those with information can call 911 or 88-CRIME.

On April 16, Tucson Fire crews responded to a fire at Bligh's home near Escalante Road and Camino Seco just after 4 a.m.

The fire resulted in multiple explosions at the home, believed to be from ammunition inside.

When Tucson Police officers arrived on scene, they noticed Bligh's car was missing. That same day, Bligh's brother called Tucson Police requesting a welfare check.

The next day, PCSD responded to a call of an abandoned vehicle in a remote area. Detectives later determined the car to be Bligh's, and found evidence in the car that led them to believe he was killed.

TPD detectives later discovered evidence that tied 30-year-old Brent Mallard to the Arson. He was extradited from the Maricopa County Jail to Tucson.

Search warrants hint at the case against the Barksdales.

Detectives asked for permission to review four bank accounts.

They requested phone records back to late February---including call records and cell phone tracking that could disclose places the Barksdales went.

On April 18th detectives searched two sites in Vernon, Arizona and apparently were face to face with the Barksdales then. Records show detectives took DNA samples by swabbing inside the Barksdale's mouths. Records do not say why the two were not arrested then, and do not indicate when they took off on the trip that led them to New York state.

Records do show detectives seizing items that include phones, photos, cash, drug paraphernalia and a 9 millimeter handgun.