Escaped Fugitives Caught in AZ Campground

Suspicious ranger in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest sics swat team on alleged murderers on the lam

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The pair of fugitives who dubbed themselves the “modern-day Bonnie and Clyde” were caught last night in an Arizona campground, thanks to an observant and suspicious Forest Service ranger who noticed an unattended campfire and encountered their hastily hidden car—a silver Nissan that was reported as stolen. After a few calls, SWAT teams swooped in on John McCluskey and his cousin and fiancee Casslyn Welch.

Welch pulled a gun from the small of her back but dropped the weapon when she realized she was surrounded. McCluskey was found in a sleeping bag outside his tent. Though he went peacefully, he told arresting officers that he would’ve shot them if he’d been able to get to his weapon inside the tent. The pair are now awaiting official charges in an Apache County jail. They’re suspected in the New Mexico murder of an Oklahoma couple who were found burned in their camper.

The two-week manhunt began with the dramatic escape of four prisoners from a Kingman, Ariz. jail and led law enforcement officers on a chase through much of the Rocky Mountain west. One escaped murderer was captured after a gun battle in Rifle, Colo.; another was caught on the edges of Yellowstone. Police and federal officers then mobilized in Glacier and spots all along the Canadian border, only to watch the trail go cold.

David Gonzales, U.S. marshal for Arizona, believes pressure put on the fugitives’ friends and family forced them back to their home state, where all it took was a small mistake and a vigilant ranger to nab the pair.

We’re lucky McCluskey and Welch left an unattended fire. Guess it pays to be leave-no-trace when on the lam.

—Ted Alvarez

via AP