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'Thelma and Louise' fugitives arrested



Toronto - One of two women fugitives sought on charges in the United States of committing a string of crimes against men seeking sexual favours went before a deportation court in Canada yesterday.

The pair - dubbed "Thelma and Louise" after the Hollywood film about two women on the run from the law - were captured on Wednesday afternoon after a massive hunt involving authorities across Canada and the US, including the Mounties and the FBI.

Rose Marie Turford, a former nurse from Canada, who appeared in court yesterday, and Joyce Carolyn Stevens, 30, an American, jumped bail in Texas last May after allegedly duping a number of men out of about $250,000 (pounds 160,000).

Ms Stevens and Ms Turford were photographed smiling and waving while being held in an immigration department squad car on Wednesday. The case has attracted wide media attention and captured the public imagination across North America.

As in the film starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, the women kissed their middle-class lives goodbye and allegedly went on a crime spree across the US.

Houston police believe the pair assaulted at least 10 men from Texas to Nevada after luring them on "dates" through telephone personals advertisements and escort services.

They were believed to have tied the men up, pretending that it was a prelude to kinky sex. They then put a gun to their heads and took their possessions, including bank cards the women used to withdraw money from cash machines.

Police officials said Canada will be seeking to send both women back to Houston so they can face the charges.

Unlike the film, where the fugitives drove into the Grand Canyon rather than be captured, the real-life pair's end came much less spectacularly. Ms Stevens was arrested at the flat the two shared while in Toronto. Ms Turford was caught at her place of work, a telephone sex service.

The pair met three years ago while working in a Houston psychiatric hospital. They became such close friends that Ms Stevens moved in with Ms Turford, putting severe strains on Ms Turford's marriage.