Image: Casslyn Welch
AP
Casslyn Welch in an undated photo provided by the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.
By
updated 8/10/2010 7:12:19 PM ET 2010-08-10T23:12:19

Authorities Tuesday focused on western Montana and southwest Canada in the search for an escaped convict from Arizona and his suspected accomplice who fashion themselves a present-day "Bonnie and Clyde."

U.S. marshals say there have been reports that the accomplice, Casslyn Welch, was spotted Monday at a restaurant in St. Mary, Mont., near Glacier National Park as well as somewhere in southwestern Canada.

Montana's acting marshal, Rod Ostermiller, said there were multiple other tips from the Glacier area, but he didn't say whether any included sightings of escapee John McCluskey.

The national park abuts the Canadian border in rugged terrain, but the border to the east, along the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, is fairly flat. Glacier County Undersheriff Jeff Fauque said there are several small roads that cross the border.

Image: Tracy Province,  John McClusky,  Daniel Renwick
AP
From left, Tracy Province,  John McClusky and Daniel Renwick are shown.

"If you are really dedicated to getting across without being detected, you can do it," he said.

A U.S. Border Patrol helicopter joined the search Tuesday, but authorities on both sides of the rambling border acknowledged it was impossible to completely secure it.

Sgt. Patrick Webb, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Calgary, Alberta, said Mounties have been checking out reports that the pair had been sighted, but none has been substantiated.

"We've got zero. We've got nothing that says they're here," Webb said.

Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the Arizona district, said the last confirmed sighting of McCluskey and Welch together was Friday in Billings, Mont., and that wasn't confirmed until Monday.

Rivera said the couple have connections in Montana, and marshals are also pursuing leads in Indiana and Pennsylvania, where the fugitives also have ties. Rivera promised more arrests of people suspected of helping the pair and said details would be announced later in the day.

The Arizona attorney general's office on Monday charged McCluskey's mother and ex-wife with helping the inmates after they escaped.

Another prisoner who escaped with McCluskey waived his right to fight extradition to Arizona.

Tracy Province, 42, appeared in court in Cody on Tuesday, one day after he was captured in the small town of Meeteetse. He waived the right to fight extradition to Arizona and signed a waiver form in handcuffs.

Given the attention the case has received, Park County Circuit Judge Bruce Waters said he expected Province to be returned to Arizona soon.

Province was caught Monday as he walked in sleepy Meeteetse, Wyo., steps from a church where he sat in the pews a day earlier and sang "Your Grace Is Enough." A woman he talked to after church recognized him from a photograph shown on television, but he went undetected at one of the town's two bars the night before, even though his photo was broadcast on The Cowboy Bar's television during the news.

Owner Jim Blake recalled Province staring straight at the TV screen but Blake said no one "put it together" because the photo wasn't a good likeness.

Butch Cassidy was arrested at the bar before being sent to prison in 1894 and Blake said Province was interested in hearing outlaw stories. He also talked about getting work as a ranch hand.

"To tell you the truth, I realize he's a terrible person, but he actually was a pretty friendly fellow," Blake said. "He actually was a pretty nice guy."

Rancher Tim Gould, the treasurer at the church, told NBC's "Today" that Province told him he was trying to get to Indianapolis, where he was from, but didn't have enough money.

The church paid him $40 to mow the lawn and cut weeds.

Province, McCluskey and Daniel Renwick escaped from the medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 30 after authorities say Welch threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Welch, 44, is McCluskey's fiancee and cousin.

Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery out of Pima County, Ariz. McCluskey was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm out of Maricopa County, Ariz.

Renwick, who was serving a 22-year sentence for second-degree murder, was captured Aug. 1 in Colorado.

Efforts to find McCluskey, Province and Welch intensified after they were linked to a double homicide in New Mexico, with the case airing Saturday on "America's Most Wanted."

Forensic evidence linked them to the killings of an Oklahoma couple. New Mexico State Police spokesman Peter Olson declined to elaborate.

The badly burned skeletal remains of Linda and Gary Haas — both 61 and from Tecumseh, Okla. — were found in a charred camper Wednesday morning on a remote ranch in eastern New Mexico. Their pickup truck was found later 100 miles west in Albuquerque.

Authorities believe the two inmates and Welch went to Wyoming, where Province separated from McCluskey and Welch on Wednesday morning at the southern entrance to Yellowstone.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Pastor: Fugitive blended in at Sunday service

  1. Closed captioning of: Pastor: Fugitive blended in at Sunday service

    >>> convicted murderer who escaped from jail in arizona , apprehended near yellowstone park . we'll talk to two men who came face-to-face with that escapee in a moment. but first, here's nbc's george lewis . george, good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, matt. 42-year-old tracy province is being held here in the park county jail before a court hearing which will determine his extradition back to arizona . that's where he and two others broke out of prison almost two weeks ago. province might be on the loose if he hadn't stopped for sunday services near a small town church . 42-year-old terry province spent his sunday morning in the meeteetse community church singing along with the congregation.

    >> he was extremely involved in the worship. he was singing. he was closing his eyes. he was involved in prayer just like any christian that walked through our doors would be.

    >> reporter: across the street at this motel, province persuaded a guest to let him sl sleep on the floor for the night.

    >> apparently one of our guests who just started talking to him, said he need add place to crash. so one of our guests was being a good samaritan, let him crash on the floor.

    >> reporter: later that night a member of the church recognized a photo of the escaped inmate and alerted sheriff's deputies. u.s. marshals staked out the church on monday morning and found the convicted murderer walking down the road carrying a 9 millimeter handgun and a hitchhiking sign asking for a ride to casper.

    >> he was relieved that this manhunt was over for him and that this long process was finally over for him.

    >> reporter: the manhunt started when province and two other inmates escaped from this arizona prison july 30th . authorities believe casslynn welch threw wire cutters over the fence to help her fiance and cousin john mccluskey escape along with two other inmates, daniel renwick and province . renwick was captured in rifle, colorado, two days later. investigators say there is evidence to tie mccluskey to the murder of a couple last week in this burned out trailer in santa rosa , new mexico.

    >> good afternoon.

    >> reporter: province told marshals they fancy themselves as a modern day bonnie and clyde .

    >> they joke about it, and i think they've taken the persona that this is some type of a movie and this is some kind of a joke they are living, but it is not. this is a very, very serious business.

    >> reporter: mccluskey's mother, claudia washburn, is in police custody in arizona , accused of helping her son evade authorities. her husband hopes mccluskey is caught before he hurts anyone else.

    >> you guys think you're bonnie and clyde , you're far from it.

    >> reporter: marshals are urging mccluskey and welsh to turn themselves in and avoid the fate of their real-life counterparts.

    >> they'll get caught sooner or later . they're making too many mistakes.

    >> rest assured, we are going to be on mccluskey like a cheap suit.

    >> reporter: officials emphasize mccluskey and welch are armed and dangerous . they are believed to be in montana now, perhaps heading toward canada. canadian authorities and interpol have been alerted. matt?

    >> george lewis , thank you very much. before his capture, tracy province was actually paid to do some odd jobs around the meeteetse community church . we're joined exclusively by the church 's pastor ron kingston and a local rancher and the church treasurer. good morning to both of you.

    >> good morning.

    >> morning.

    >> ron , you're the pastor of a small church . i understand the population of the town is only about 350 people, so is it unusual for a stranger to show up for sunday services?

    >> not really a stranger to show up. we are outside of yellowstone park so we have a lot of tourists sometimes stop by, so it's not real strange but, yeah, we like to invite newcomers who want to come.

    >> when this guy, tracy province walked in this past sunday, ron , did he immediately attract your attention or did he blend in?

    >> he fairly blended in. there was nothing that stood out about him. i wasn't following the news so i didn't recognize him like that. i just figured he was somebody who wanted to come and worship god with us.

    >> and, jim , you had a chance to speak to tracy province . what was the conversation like? what was it like? what was his demeanor?

    >> after church i visited with him about 30 minutes , and he was -- on some things you could tell he was telling the truth. other things not. watching him, you could tell he was not a very good person. and later i called and told ron that this guy is a bad guy and i wouldn't have him around your kids because he was there doing some work for the church .

    >> jim , did he talk about what he had been through over the past couple of days? did he tell you where he was from, where he had been, where he was going?

    >> yes. he told us that he had stayed three nights on the grass down on the river. before that he'd been in yellowstone park and his party had had left him and he didn't know why. he said he was heading to indianapolis, indiana, and that's where he was from. he didn't have enough money to get there.

    >> did he seem -- you offered him, ron , a job doing some odd jobs around the church , i think pulling some weeds and cleaning up some hoses. you were going to pay him $40. did he seem grateful for the opportunity?

    >> yeah, he told me he was out of money and so i offered a job for him, so he mowed the grass and brought the weed whacker out and did a bunch of the work around the church . i paid him, he took the money and like any good pastor i talked about tithing and he wanted to tithe off the $40.

    >> and i know eventually your suspicions raised to the point where you did call law enforcement as did another parishioner who apparently recognized him from the news. he was planning to come back and perhaps do some more work the next day and that's when he was arrested. he was arrested with a handgun. you now know a little bit more about his background. have you stopped to think about what could have been had he come back to that church ?

    >> yeah, i sure have. i thought of all the scenarios went through my mind, and the scenario that happened here in meeteetse in our little town , it really happened good. i'm proud of our law enforcement and it wouldn't have happened without the deputy sheriff of my town really encouraging me to look on the internet to see if this man was, in fact, the man in our church , and it turned out he was the man and then the u.s. marshals got involved and everything worked out really good. i saw him walking through the street the next morning. got on the phone and it all happened and there wasn't a gunfight. everything worked out real good. so i'm thankful to god for his protection over our town.

    >> and we're thankful for your actions. ron and jim , thank you for joining thus morning. we appreciate it.

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