- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PHOENIX (AP) — An escaped Arizona inmate and his fiancee now may be in northwest Arkansas and are suspects in an armed robbery, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

David Gonzales, the U.S. marshal for Arizona, said a couple who robbed a store Wednesday morning in Gentry, Ark., fit the description of John McCluskey and his fiancee, Casslyn Welch.

Gentry is in northwest Arkansas, nearly 1,600 miles from the Montana town where the pair was spotted Sunday.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Department said it is investigating a robbery of Kut and Curl beauty salon in Gentry. Marshal Gonzales said Ms. Welch’s mother lives in the area, and authorities are trying to get surveillance film from the robbery.

McCluskey and Ms. Welch have eluded authorities since he and two other inmates escaped from an Arizona prison on June 30.

Ms. Welch was last spotted Sunday at a restaurant in St. Mary, Mont., on the eastern border of Glacier National Park.

Two of the escaped inmates already have been caught, and 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 that McCluskey and Ms. Welch apparently have changed their appearance.

Welch has dyed her hair blond; McCluskey has dyed his hair black,” Marshal Rivera said.

The information was developed through interviews with people who last saw the couple, Marshal Rivera said.

Another prisoner who escaped with McCluskey was due in a Glenwood Springs, Colo., courtroom Wednesday. Daniel Renwick, who was serving two consecutive 22-year sentences for second-degree murder, was captured Aug. 1 in western Colorado.

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, Ms. Welch threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Ms. Welch, 44, is McCluskey’s fiancee and cousin.

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.

The Arizona attorney general’s office on Monday charged McCluskey’s mother and ex-wife with helping the inmates after they escaped.

Forensic evidence has linked the escapees to the killings of husband and wife Linda and Gary Haas, both 61, of Tecumseh, Okla. The badly burned skeletal remains of the Haases were found in a charred camper last Wednesday on a remote ranch in eastern New Mexico. Their pickup later was found 100 miles west in Albuquerque.

Matt Volz reported from Helena, Mont. Associated Press writers Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Amy Beth Hanson in Helena contributed to this report.


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