Prison escapee John McCluskey and his cousin/girlfriend Casslyn Welch were arrested at a campsite in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest only 300 miles from the prison that Welch had assisted McCluskey and two others to escape from on July 30th. During their time on the lamb information had led investigators to suspect the pair of being in Yellowstone National Park and other camping areas.
These criminals who are also suspected in the murder of a couple in New Mexico following their escape were located by a U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer who was investigating an unattended fire. The LEO was smart enough not to confront the suspects and left the area to make a report and call in other state and Federal agencies to make the arrest. During the arrest by SWAT team members Welch reached for a gun, but was physically prevented from firing at the officers. McClusky later stated to investigators that he wished he had shot the Forest Service LEO when he had a chance.
This is not the first time that dangerous fugitives have attempted to hide out in remote camping areas such as National Parks and Forests. Whenever there are manhunts for dangerous criminals National Parks are generally notified to be on the lookout.
You will find several stories about desperados hiding out in parks in my book A Park Ranger’s Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting our National Parks.
Congratulations to the U.S. Forest Service LEO whose skills and good decision making saved his life and resulted in the apprehension of these dangerous criminals that threatened us all.
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