Search for Arizona fugitive, fiancee focuses on area near Montana’s Glacier Nat’l ParkBy Matt Volz, AP
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Search for fugitive, fiancee focuses on Montana
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — A fugitive and his suspected female accomplice who have been tracked across the West — from Arizona to New Mexico to Wyoming — have apparently fled to an area near Montana’s Glacier National Park, authorities said.
The search for inmate John McCluskey, 45, and Casslyn Welch, 44 focused for a time on sprawling, tourist-packed Yellowstone National Park, which straddles Wyoming and Montana.
But the U.S. Marshals Service said late Monday it has received tips from the area east of Glacier National Park near the Canadian border.
“There has been a lot of activity in the area,” said Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the district of Arizona. “That is one of a few places we are looking at.”
He did not elaborate.
McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick escaped from a private, medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 30 after authorities say Welch threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Welch is McCluskey’s fiancee and cousin. Renwick, who turns 37 on Tuesday, was captured in Colorado.
Province, 42, was caught Monday as he walked in sleepy Meeteetse, Wyo., steps from a church where he sat in the pews a day earlier and sang “Your Grace Is Enough.” He was scheduled for an extradition hearing Tuesday morning, authorities said.
Efforts to find McCluskey, Province and Welch intensified after they were linked to a double homicide in New Mexico, with the case airing Saturday on “America’s Most Wanted.”
On Sunday, Province walked into Meeteetse Community Church, about 60 miles outside of Yellowstone, wearing blue jeans, a blue checkered flannel shirt, and a camouflage backpack slung over one shoulder, worshipper Jay Curtis said. Province looked like the many hitchhikers who pass through town.
“Just shook his hand and said ‘Welcome, welcome to our church,’” said Curtis, a member of the church band. “He just smiled and said: ‘Thank you.’”
A woman who had chatted briefly with Province on the steps of the church on Sunday called police after recognizing him later on television, Gonzales said.
When marshals and other law enforcement officers arrested him, he initially denied being the fugitive, Gonzales said. He was carrying a 9 mm handgun and the sign that said “Casper,” a city about 160 miles to the southeast, authorities said.
Gonzales said a $40,000 reward was set for McCluskey and Welch’s capture.
“Rest assured, we are going to be on McCluskey like a cheap suit,” Gonzales said. “We are not going to pull this thing down.”
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office on Monday charged two women, including McCluskey’s mother, with helping the inmates after they escaped.
Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery out of Pima County, Ariz. McCluskey was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm out of Maricopa County, Ariz.
Forensic evidence linked the two inmates and Welch 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.
Authorities believe the two inmates and Welch went to Wyoming, where Province separated from McCluskey and Welch on Wednesday morning at the southern entrance to Yellowstone.
By Monday, rangers at the park were given posters of the fugitives so they could check passing cars for them. But they weren’t handing out the posters, nor were they advising entering motorists about the search. Officials said the 3,472-square-mile park was safe, as they welcomed an estimated 30,000 campers and tourists.
Wanted posters were put up at campground registration areas with pictures of the two fugitives warning: DO NOT APPROACH, attempt to contact or detain in any way.
Cooper reported from Phoenix. Associated Press Writers Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Thomas Peipert in Denver contributed to this report.
Tags: Arizona, Correctional Systems, Montana, New Mexico, North America, Oklahoma, Prison Breaks, United States, Violent Crime, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park