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PHOENIX (AP) — An unattended campfire and a suspicious forest ranger led to the arrest of two of the most wanted fugitives in the U.S., ending a three-week nationwide manhunt that drew hundreds of false sightings, authorities said.
John McCluskey fled July 30 with two other inmates from a private prison in northwest Arizona and evaded authorities in at least six states before being caught Thursday evening just 300 miles east of the prison.
Authorities arrested McCluskey, 45, and his alleged accomplice Casslyn Welch, 44, at a campsite in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona.
Welch, who is McCluskey's fiancee and cousin, reached for a weapon but dropped it when she realized she was outgunned by a swarming SWAT team, said David Gonzales, U.S. marshal for Arizona.
Officers apprehended McCluskey without incident after finding him lying in a sleeping bag outside a tent. He told authorities he had a gun in his tent and would have shot them if he had been able to reach for it.
It was a peaceful close to a manhunt that authorities had said was likely to end in a bloody shootout between officers and desperate outlaws who fancied themselves as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde.
"The nightmare that began July 30 is finally over," Gonzales said.
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