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Marshals move search for fugitive to Arkansas

Couple suspected in salon robbery

- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PHOENIX (AP) | The manhunt for a fugitive from Arizona and his fiancee shifted from Montana to Arkansas after they were suspected of holding up a beauty-supply store there Wednesday morning, the U.S. Marshal's Service said.

A couple who robbed Kut and Curl beauty salon in Gentry, Ark., fits the description of John McCluskey and his fiancee, Casslyn Welch, said David Gonzales, the U.S. marshal for Arizona. The town of about 2,000 is in northwest Arkansas, nearly 1,600 miles from the small Montana town where the pair was last spotted on Sunday.

The Benton County Sheriff's Department said it is investigating the robbery, but U.S. marshals there haven't positively identified the couple.

"We're trying to use any means possible - surveillance cameras, anything possible to determine [their identifications]," said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Gary Gray of the Western District of Arkansas.

McCluskey, 45, and Miss Welch, 44, have eluded capture since he and two other inmates escaped from an Arizona prison on July 30. Miss Welch's mother lives near Gentry, authorities said.

Miss Welch was last spotted Sunday at a restaurant in St. Mary, Mont., on the eastern border of Glacier National Park and authorities thought the couple might be trying to cross into Canada. Interpol issued an international alert for the two Wednesday.

Since then, authorities had not had any credible leads in the northern Montana valley near the Canadian border, where Glacier National Park meets the vast, open Great Plains.

"We've had multiple, I guess you could call them leads, that we've checked out in the area. In layman's terms, none of those have panned out," Glacier County Undersheriff Jeff Fauque said.

Two of the escaped inmates have been caught. New Mexico authorities have linked the group to the deaths of an Oklahoma couple whose bodies were found in their charred camper in eastern New Mexico a week ago.

Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the Arizona district, told the Associated Press on Wednesday the two apparently have changed their appearance.

"Welch has dyed her hair blond, McCluskey has dyed his hair black," Mr. Rivera said.

Another prisoner who escaped with McCluskey - Daniel Renwick - was captured Aug. 1 in western Colorado. He was serving two consecutive 22-year sentences for second-degree murder.

A day earlier, the third escapee, Tracy Province, appeared in a Cody, Wyo., court and waived his right to fight extradition to Arizona. Province 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."

Province, McCluskey and Renwick escaped from the medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 30 after authorities say Miss Welch threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence.

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.

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