ST. JOHNS, Ariz. (CBS/AP) Hugh Murray was just about to cook up vegetable stew last Thursday when a SWAT team crowded around the campsite where he was visiting his two new friends - escaped inmate John McCluskey and his accomplice Casslyn Welch.
It was then that it "clicked" for the 67-year-old Murray.
His mind traced back to a week earlier, when he scanned a newspaper article about three men who escaped from a prison in northwest Arizona and a woman who helped them flee.
McCluskey, 45, was the last of three inmates who escaped July 30 from the Arizona State prison in Kingman to be captured. Welch, his 44 year-old fiancee and cousin, helped McCluskey escape with inmates Tracy Province, 42, and Daniel Renwick, 36.
"It was unbelievable until then, but then it made sense," Murray told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Monday.
Murray had unknowingly befriended two of the most wanted fugitives in America Wednesday after McCluskey asked him for a jack handle to which Murray begrudgingly obliged. The fugitives took a liking to Murray when he began talking of nature and recommended hiking trails. The trio went out together Thursday to gather mushrooms that McCluskey sliced up, seasoned and served in wheat tortillas with cheese.
According to Murray, he never asked for their names, and they didn't ask for his.
He said the two showed no signs of hostility toward him and never brandished the guns that authorities found when they were captured, didn't speak of their recent travels and definitely didn't mention that they were on the run for nearly three weeks.
Murray said the two were pleasant. "I hadn't a clue they had done anything deadly, until that cop mentioned who they were," he said.
McCluskey and Welch have been charged with murder and carjacking in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple in New Mexico. They also face charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and armed robbery in Arizona.
McCluskey's mild manners may not have lasted for long, as he told authorities that he regretted not having killed the forest ranger whose tip led to their capture. Officials in Apache County said they believed Murray could have been the next victim.
Murray is thankful to cops for their "good police work." "I'm glad they came in when they did," he said.