Posted: Aug 9, 2010 11:48 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5
Updated: Aug 9, 2010 1:14 PM
Federal agents on Monday captured one of two inmates who escaped from an Arizona prison as he walked, armed with a handgun, outside a Wyoming church, and were still hunting for the other fugitive and a suspected accomplice.
Convicted killer Tracy Province told authorities he was relieved that the manhunt was over when he was arrested around 6:20 a.m. in Meeteetse, Wyoming, about 60 miles outside of Yellowstone National Park, said David Gonzales, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona.
The other inmate, John McCluskey, as well as suspected accomplice Casslyn Welch, were still on the lam.
"They consider themselves as Bonnie and Clyde," Gonzales said. "This is very, very serious business."
In this combination of undated photos provided by the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, Tracy Province, left, John McCluskey, center, Cassyln Welch are shown.Gonzales said agents were working on leads in Wyoming. He said they believed that McCluskey and Welch were no longer in tourist-packed Yellowstone, where more than 100 armed park rangers were patrolling amid an estimated 30,000 campers and tourists.
Rangers patrolled campgrounds on the sprawling 3,472-square-mile park that spans Montana and Wyoming.
Authorities tracked Province to the small northwestern Wyoming town of Meeteetse after a resident told them that they saw him sitting on the steps outside a church and chatted with him about getting odd jobs, Gonzales said. When marshals and other law enforcement officers arrested him, he initially denied being Province, Gonzales said. He was carrying a 9 mm handgun when officers arrested him, he said.
Efforts to find the trio intensified after they were linked to a double homicide in New Mexico.
Province, McCluskey and Daniel Renwick escaped from a private, medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 30 after authorities say the 44-year-old Welch threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Welch is McCluskey's fiancee and cousin.
The three later kidnapped two semi-truck drivers at gunpoint and used the big rig to get away, authorities said. The group left the drivers unharmed in the truck at a stop just off Interstate 40 in Flagstaff and then fled. Renwick was arrested Aug. 1 in Colorado following a shootout.
The manhunt intensified Saturday after forensic evidence linked the two inmates and Welsh to the killings of an Oklahoma couple. New Mexico State Police spokesman Peter Olson declined to elaborate.
The badly burned skeletal remains of Linda and Gary Haas - both 61 and from Tecumseh, Okla. - were found in a charred camper Wednesday morning on a remote ranch in eastern New Mexico. Their pickup truck was found later 100 miles west in Albuquerque.
Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery out of Pima County, Arizona. McCluskey was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm out of Maricopa County, Arizona.