Ariz. Fugitives Indicted for Capital Murder in Vacationing Couple's Slaying

Ariz. Fugitives Indicted On Capital Murder Charges
John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch (CBS/AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CBS/AP) A federal grand jury has indicted two Arizona prison escapees, and a woman who allegedly helped them, on capital murder and carjacking charges in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple in August.

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U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said Thursday that John Charles McCluskey, 45, Tracy Allen Province, 42, and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, could face the death penalty if convicted. The three are accused in the murders of Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., whose remains were found with their burned-out recreational trailer near Santa Rosa, N.M.

McCluskey, Province and Welch face charges of conspiracy to commit carjacking, carjacking resulting in death, tampering with a witness, conspiracy and other crimes.

Prosecutors have said the three targeted the couple at an Interstate 40 rest stop because they had grown weary of traveling and sleeping in a car, and wanted to steal the couple's camping trailer. The Haases were taken to a remote ranch where they were shot, and the trailer was set on fire Aug. 2.

The Haases, both 61, were traveling to Pagosa Springs, Colo., for a camping trip. Gonzales has said they simply were "two people on vacation who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Authorities said the prosecutors will seek to extradite the suspects from Arizona to New Mexico.

The three face felony charges in Arizona of escape, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault. In court documents posted Thursday in Arizona's Mohave County, McCluskey's attorney requested that the case be sent back to the grand jury.

John Peechia said testimony the state elicited from a detective - that McCluskey was both engaged to and is the first cousin of Welch - served no purpose but to prejudice the jurors.

Investigators said Welch helped McCluskey, Province and Daniel Renwick escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman on July 31 by throwing wire cutters over a fence. The escape sparked a nationwide manhunt.

Renwick, who split from the group, was recaptured Aug. 1 in Colorado. The three others went on an alleged multistate crime spree before Province was arrested in Wyoming on Aug. 8 and McCluskey and Welch were arrested in Arizona on Aug. 19.