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Former Arizona fugitives charged in Oklahoma couple's deaths

The U.S. Attorney in New Mexico announced charges Monday in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple whom authorities say died this month at the hands of two Arizona prison escapees and their accomplice.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: August 24, 2010 at 6:47 am •  Published: August 24, 2010

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.

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