TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the search continues for a husband-and-wife team wanted for murder, a relative in southern Arizona wants the couple to turn themselves in.
Arizona murder suspect Blane Barksdale, who escaped with his fugitive wife Susan, was added to the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted List on Monday, Sept. 9.
“Own up to it. Turn yourself in so your grandkids can see you. Otherwise, this could turn out bad,” said Kelly Westfall, the former daughter-in-law of Barksdale.
“Almost 20 years now, I’ve known Blane and this is not the man I know," said Westfall. “He’s normally very family oriented, gentle. This is not him. This is very strange.”
Westfall said she was married to Barksdale’s son, Matt, for about 10 years. They have two children together.
“He (Blane Barksdale) was supposed to walk my oldest down the aisle when she got married. His step-granddaughter and I haven’t heard from him since," said Westfall. "He disappeared before she got married and that’s when he went on the run.”
Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, were arrested in New York for the murder of 72-year-old Frank Bligh. Bligh has not been seen since his house exploded in April.
The Tucson Police Department said evidence found at Bligh’s residence led detectives to determine the fire was intentionally set. Additional evidence uncovered during the investigation led detectives to obtain homicide arrest warrants for the couple.
While being extradited into Pima County, authorities said the Barksdales overpowered and kidnapped two security officers and a third inmate in a prisoner transport van near Blanding, Utah. The couple then drove to Vernon, AZ, where they obtained a Red GMC Sierra pickup truck from an acquaintance. They then abandoned the prisoner van with the three locked inside.
“He’s got connections, OK, with a lot of people; Hells Angels, kinds of gangs, friends, family. ... He’s got lots of them," said Westfall.
“They could be anywhere in the U.S.,” David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona, said on Monday, Sept. 9.
As local, state and federal agencies search for the couple, Westfall shared authorities should be looking north.
“He’s probably up in the wild somewhere camping. It’s just something he loves to do. It’s not going to shock me,” said Barksdale. "They are probably going to find him up in the mountains somewhere.”
Authorities said the couple should be considered armed and dangerous.
Westfall said she never met Susan, but hoped the man who was like a father to her would do the right thing.
“I’d hate for his first-born grandson to see, this is how my grandfather ... this is not you," said Westfall. "Hopefully he turns himself in and makes it right. Shows his kids and his grandkids and his son that this is not OK.”
The U.S. Marshals are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading directly to Blane Barksdale’s arrest. A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading directly to Susan Barksdale’s arrest. A $5,000 reward is offered for information that help authorities find the truck.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the nearest U.S. Marshals office, the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 1-877-WANTED-2, or submit information through the U.S. Marshals Tips app at www.usmarshals.gov/tips.