Updated: Saturday, 07 Aug 2010, 10:18 PM MDT
Published : Saturday, 07 Aug 2010, 6:59 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - One of two men who escaped from an Arizona prison late last month has been linked to two murders that happened near Santa Rosa this week.
New Mexico State Police Major Robert Shilling said Saturday that John McCluskey, 45, was linked through forensic evidence to charred remains found in a trailer near Santa Rosa Wednesday. Major Shilling declined to provide specifics and would not say whether police think the other two people McCluskey is believed to be traveling with, Tracy Province, 42, and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, are responsible for the killings.
State Police said the trio is most likely still traveling together and is armed and extremely dangerous. Shilling said they could be anywhere including New Mexico.
"The public needs to vigilant more than anything, " Shilling said. "Not alarmed, not scared, but vigilant, paying attention to suspicious circumstances, suspicious individuals."
Province, McCluskey and Daniel Renwick escaped from the medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 31 after authorities said Welch threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Renwick was arrested in Colorado on Aug. 1.
The badly burned skeletal remains were found by a rancher in a charred trailer. State Police have confirmed that an Oklahoma couple, Linda Haas, 61, and Gary Haas, 60, had owned the trailer and a pick-up truck that was found later abandoned in Albuquerque. Detectives are still waiting on positive identifications from the Office of the Medical Investigator as to whether or not the charred remains are in fact those of Linda and Gary Haas.
Province and McCluskey were both serving time for murder. Province was incarcerated for the brutal stabbing death of an Arizona man, Norman Knoblich, nearly 20 years ago. McCluskey was serving time for second degree murder. His mother, Claudia Washburn, 68, was arrested Saturday in Arizona because she is believed to have helped the inmates get away. Authorities there suspect her of giving the escapees financial and other types of support.
A nationwide search is underway for the trio, investigators believe they may be a traveling in a 1997 platinum gold Nissan Sentra with Arizona license plate: 620PFV. Police are advising the public to call them and not to approach the trio because they are considered armed and extremely dangerous.