Tucson murder suspects armed and on the run following daring escape

Reward offered for information leading to capture of Blane and Susan Barksdale

Tucson murder suspects armed and on the run following daring escape
Blane and Susan Barksdale (Source: Tucson Police Department)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Tucson couple accused of murder is on the loose and authorities said the two are armed and dangerous.

Blane and Susan Barksdale escaped from a private transport company while on their way to Pima County from New York.

The Apache County Sheriff’s Office said the Barksdales overpowered two transport officers in Blanding, Utah, on Monday, Aug. 26.

The Barksdales then drove to St. Johns, which is located in northeastern Arizona. There, they dumped the transport van and took off in another vehicle.

The Barksdales should be considered armed and dangerous. If you see them, do not approach and call the FBI tip-line at 1-800-225-5324, 911 or 88-CRIME.

The U.S. Marshals Service said there is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of each of the Barksdales.

Blane Barksdale, 56, has multiple tattoos on his arms and hands. Authorities have not released additional identifying information for the 59-year-old Susan Barksdale.

According to the Tucson Police Department, the couple waswere last seen driving a red GMC Sierra pickup truck with Arizona license plate: 127XTY. The pickup has damage to the front passenger side and rear bumper.

Investigators have information that they may be traveling through Arizona, but their direction of travel is unknown.

The Barksdales are accused in the death of 72-year-old Frank Bligh in Tucson in April 2019.

“We’re a little dumbfounded at the whole thing. I don’t understand why they would even transport them together,” said William Bligh, Frank’s younger brother.

William Bligh spoke out after receiving the news from the chief homicide detective with TPD this morning.

He said their lives have been a roller coaster since April 7, when they lost contact with Frank.

On April 16, Frank’s home in the 3500 block of South Calexico Avenue caught fire and exploded. The next day, his car was found abandoned in Tucson.

William said he visited Frank’s house last week and it was hard to see the damage left behind.

“It was just a little heartbreaking, shall I say, to see it like that but we have a big void in life right now,” he said.

The alleged crime was a family affair. On April 24, the Barksdales’ nephew Brent Mallard was originally arrested on charges of arson, robbery and criminal damage. The charges were dismissed and Mallard was indicted on a lone charge of arson. He may plead guilty during a hearing on Friday, Aug. 30.

Frank’s body has yet to be located and William said that is keeping them from beginning to heal.

“We need some kind of closure,” he said. “We still don’t know. They won’t tell us what they did with the body. We have no clue at all what they did with him.”

The fear is that they may never find out. But what they want more than anything is justice.

“You know I would really like for them to have their day in court," William said. “So it’s just uh, it’s just going day by day right now."

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