After nearly three weeks on the run, Arizona fugitives John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch were caught in Apache County on Thursday evening.We should all be grateful that McCluskey and Welch were captured before they could add to their body count, and should be especially grateful to the conscientious U.S. Forest Service ranger, U.S. Marshals, and the deputies/officers from the Apache County Sheriff's Office who were instrumental in the safe capture of the murderous escapee (and his accomplice) from one of Arizona's privately-run prisons.
The fugitive couple were caught at a campground near Sunrise Ski Resort at about 7 p.m.
With state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies around the country participating in the manhunt, it was the work of a keen-eyed forest ranger that did the couple in.
The ranger, whom authorities did not immediately identify, saw a car parked about 700 yards off a highway in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests near the ski resort.
After Thursday's sighting, the U.S. Forest Service contacted the U.S. marshals command post in Phoenix, which coordinated the nationwide manhunt. Through the make and model of the car and the origin of the stolen license plate, investigators determined the couple in the car might be McCluskey and Welch.
The Apache County Sheriff's Office sent a tactical-response team and arrested the couple.
From an emailed statement from Terry Goddard, Arizona's Attorney General and a candidate for Governor -
"We are fortunate McCluskey and Welch were apprehended without further loss of life.
This escape shined a bright light on inadequate prison security, on improper assignment of convicted murders to facilities not meant for such dangerous criminals, and Arizona's over-reliance on private, for-profit prisons. I called on the governor to take several immediate steps to prevent future escapes. She has ignored them and done little in response.As of this writing, Jan Brewer, neither in her position as Governor nor in her position as candidate for Governor, has published a statement on the successful capture of the escapee from a private prison by dedicated public employees.
"Unless the Brewer Administration does more to tighten security and to carefully re-examine the operations of Arizona's private prisons, we should not be surprised if other violent convicts make their escape."