The process has begun in New Mexico to seek the death penalty against two Arizona prison escapees and a female accomplice allegedly involved in the August murders of two vacationing Tecumseh residents.
A federal grand jury has returned an indictment against John Charles McCluskey, 45, Tracy Allen Province, 42, and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, who are accused in the murders of Tecumseh residents Gary and Linda Haas, both 61. They were found dead Aug. 4 in their burned camper-trailer near Santa Rosa, N.M.
The couple was traveling in that area as part of their annual camping trip to Pagosa Springs, Colo., something they have done for the past 11 years.
Police linked their deaths to two Arizona prison escapees and an accomplice. Escapee Province was apprehended in Wyoming Aug. 9, while McCluskey and his reported cousin and fiancé, Welch, were sought in what became a nationwide fugitive search until their capture Aug. 19.
Court documents allege the trio intentionally killed the Haases and prosecutors have said they targeted the couple at an Interstate 40 rest stop because they were tired 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.
The indictment incorporates the 13 counts of the original indictment, but adds a notice about the death penalty. Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico, said Thursday, “It’s part of the procedural steps we have to go through” to preserve the right to seek the death penalty.
McCluskey, Province and Welch were indicted on numerous charges, including capital murder, carjacking, conspiracy to commit carjacking, resulting in death, tampering with a witness and other crimes. Now jailed in Arizona, the three also face Arizona charges of escape, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault.
Corrections officials have said Welch, helped McCluskey, Province and fellow inmate Daniel Renwick escape July 30 from the private prison near Kingman, Ariz., by cutting through a security fence. The escape sparked a nationwide manhunt.
Renwick, who split from the group, was recaptured in Colorado Aug. 1, and Province was found in Wyoming Aug. 9. McCluskey and Welch were arrested Aug. 19 in Arizona after a forest ranger spotted them at a remote Arizona campsite. Renwick is not implicated in the death of the Haases.