'Bonnie and Clyde' couple captured

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The Independent US

A fugitive couple who sparked a nationwide US manhunt were captured at an at an Arizona campground after a forest ranger spotted them and their stolen vehicle hidden in the trees.

Escaped prisoner John McCluskey, 45, and his fiancee Casslyn Welch, 44, reportedly described themselves as "Bonnie and Clyde".

They were arrested by law enforcement officers at a campsite at the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Welch at first drew a gun but dropped it when she saw she was outgunned by a SWAT team, said David Gonzales, US marshal for Arizona.

McCluskey was in a nearby sleeping bag. Other firearms were found at the campsite, and authorities said that McCluskey expressed regret at not having killed the US Forest Service ranger who led to their capture.

"The nightmare is over, but it is still continuing. There's a lot more for law enforcement to do," Gonzales said, referring to investigations into crimes the pair may have committed while on the road, including the murder of a couple in New Mexico.

McCluskey was among three prisoners who escaped on July 30 from a privately operated state prison in Kingman, allegedly with the help of Welch.

Officials have said that Welch helped McCluskey and inmates Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick escape by cutting through a security fence.

Renwick was recaptured in Colorado and Province was found in Wyoming.

Renwick and Province were serving time for murder. McCluskey was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm.

Province, McCluskey and Welch have been linked to the murder of Greg and Linda Haas, a couple whose burned bodies were found in a travel trailer on a remote ranch near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. They had been travelling to Colorado on an annual camping trip.

Gonzales said the relatively quiet arrest of the pair was surprising.

"We were convinced this was going to go down into a bloody shootout," he said.

"There was no question about it."

The arrests came hours after officials discussed a report that outlined a series of embarrassing security breakdowns that allowed the escape.

The prison has a badly defective alarm system, a perimeter post was unstaffed, an outside dormitory door had been propped open with a rock and the alarms went off so often that prison personnel often just ignored them, the report said.