The U.S. Attorney in New Mexico detailed chilling allegations against two Arizona prison escapees and their accomplice Monday in a news conference announcing charges against them in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple.
John Charles McCluskey, 45, Tracy Allen Province, 42, and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, were charged Monday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the Aug. 2 deaths of Gary and Linda Haas, both 61, of Tecumseh, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said.
They could face the death penalty if convicted.
McCluskey and Province escaped with another prisoner from an Arizona prison July 30 with the help of Welch. All three have since been captured and are in custody in Arizona.
The Haases, a retired couple, were on their way to Pagosa Springs, Colo., for a vacation. They parked their pickup and camping trailer at a rest stop on Interstate 40 in Quay County, N.M., when they encountered McCluskey, Province and Welch.
"And what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Haas next was unspeakable," Gonzales said.
"Yesterday, I spoke with members of the Haas family and offered the condolences of the entire law enforcement community in New Mexico. We can only imagine their grief at this time.
"To the Haas family and all families out there, please know that we will continue relentlessly to pursue individuals who take lives and endanger citizens through violent means."
FBI Special Agent Marcus McCaskill said in an affidavit in support of the charges that McCluskey, Province and Welch were tired of traveling and sleeping in a sedan and wanted to steal a trailer.
According to the affidavit, McCluskey and Province watched Linda Haas leave the trailer and head back toward the pickup, where Gary Haas was in the driver's seat. They walked behind her and forced her into the front passenger seat at gunpoint and ordered Gary Haas to drive away. Welch followed in the sedan.
After arriving at a remote area believed to be between Tucumcari, N.M., and Santa Rosa, N.M., the couple were led into the trailer.
McCluskey was quoted in the affidavit as saying that he used a .40-caliber pistol to shoot Gary Haas once in the head, near the temple, and then shoot Linda Haas three times. He said he felt he had to kill them because it was the only chance for escape for him, Province and Welch.
McCluskey told investigators he shot them as they sat in the dining area of the camper. He asked Province to help him move the bodies down from a sitting position so they couldn't be seen from outside.
McCluskey drove west on I-40 with the Haases bodies in the trailer, eventually arriving at a remote location in Guadalupe County, where the trailer was unhooked, doused inside with liquor and set on fire, the affidavit said.
The three dogs traveling with the couple were freed and a pile of food was left for them before the fire was started. Investigators found two of the three dogs at the trailer on Aug. 4.
After he was captured Aug. 9 in Wyoming, Province told investigators they decided to burn the trailer after they discovered it was leaking blood when they stopped for gas.
Fingerprints were found on a piece of plastic wrapping from a roll of paper towels in the Haases' pickup, which was found abandoned in an Albuquerque, N.M., shopping center, the affidavit states. Investigators matched the fingerprints to McCluskey. DNA from blood smears in the pickup matched at least one of the Haases. The trio tried to wipe down the pickup with the paper towels and brake fluid in an attempt to remove fingerprints.
McCluskey, Province and Welch each face felony counts of carjacking, causing death through use of a firearm and discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence.