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Captured Ariz. fugitive waives extradition fight
Question of the Day
CODY, Wyo. (AP) — The escaped Arizona prisoner captured Monday in northwestern Wyoming has waived his right to fight extradition to Arizona.
Tracy Province appeared in a court in Cody on Tuesday morning, one day after he was caught in Meeteetse. He was in handcuffs and leg irons and dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit.
Judge Bruce Waters told Province he had the right to fight extradition, but Province told the judge he waived that right and then signed a waiver form.
Meanwhile, authorities searched western Montana and adjacent areas of Canada for John McCluskey, another Arizona escapee, and his suspected female accomplice, Casslyn Welch. A Border Patrol helicopter plans to join the search Tuesday.
“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, Province and Daniel Renwick escaped from a private, medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 30 after, authorities say, Ms. Welch threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Ms. 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.
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 Mr. Curtis, a member of the church band. “He just smiled and said, ‘Thank you.’”
A woman who chatted briefly with Province on the steps of the church on Sunday called police after later recognizing him on television, Marshal Gonzales said.
When marshals and other law enforcement officers arrested him, he initially denied being the fugitive, Marshal 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.
“Rest assured, we are going to be on McCluskey like a cheap suit,” Marshal Gonzales said. “We are not going to pull this thing down.”
The Arizona attorney general 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, 45, 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 Ms. 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, of Tecumseh, Okla., were found in a charred camper Wednesday morning on a remote ranch in eastern New Mexico. Their pickup truck later was found 100 miles west in Albuquerque.
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.”
Jonathan Cooper reported from Phoenix. Associated Press Writers Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Thomas Peipert in Denver contributed to this report.
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