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Arizona prison officials resign amid hunt for escapee

By the CNN Wire Staff
John Charles McCluskey may have dark hair and a beard, as in this U.S. Marshals Service photo composite.
John Charles McCluskey may have dark hair and a beard, as in this U.S. Marshals Service photo composite.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A warden and a security official resigned last week, a prison spokesman says
  • The resignations come amid a nationwide search for inmate and his alleged accomplice
  • Two other escapees from the prison have been arrested
  • Authorities are concentrating search efforts in Montana and along the Canadian border

(CNN) -- A warden and a security official have resigned their posts at an Arizona state prison where three inmates escaped last month, a spokesman for the private company that runs the facility said Sunday.

Unit Warden Lori Lieder and an unidentified unit security chief resigned last week from Arizona State Prison -- Kingman, according to Carl Stuart, a spokesman for Management & Training Corp.

The resignations come amid a nationwide search for the last of the three escaped inmates, John McCluskey, and his alleged accomplice, Casslyn Mae Welch.

McCluskey, 45, was serving a 15-year sentence for attempted second-degree murder and other charges when he and fellow convicts Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick broke out of the prison July 30, allegedly with Welch's help.

Video: Manhunt on for escapee
Video: Search for fugitive goes on
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Welch, who was on the visitation list for one of the inmates, threw cutting tools over a prison fence, according to Charles Ryan, director of Arizona's Department of Corrections.

Ryan has noted some "operational security problems" at the prison.

"Those are being evaluated and investigated as we speak," he said earlier this month.

Renwick, 36, was captured August 1 in a shootout with police in Rifle, Colorado. He was serving 22 years for second-degree murder when he escaped.

Province, 42, was rearrested Monday in Meeteetse, Wyoming, near Yellowstone National Park when authorities were notified by a local resident who sat and talked with Province a day earlier on the steps of a church in town. He was serving a life sentence for murder and armed robbery.

Renwick remains in the Garfield County, Colorado, Jail on charges of attempted first-degree murder and eluding police, the U.S. Marshals Service said Sunday.

Authorities are working to coordinate the transport of Province back to Arizona from Wyoming -- expected to occur within the next month, the marshals service said.

Meanwhile, the hunt for McCluskey and Welch continued in western Montana and along the border with Canada, the marshals service said.

The last credible sighting of the pair occurred August 6 in Billings, Montana, the marshals service said. A reward of up to $35,000 is being offered for information that leads to their arrests.

McCluskey is believed to have dyed his hair dark and grown a beard and Welch may have blonde hair.

"All information indicates McCluskey and Welch are still traveling together and should be considered armed and extremely dangerous," the marshals service said in a news release. "It is likely they are reacting, rather than taking deliberate action. As the manhunt protracts, it is highly possible they will become more desperate, creating increased danger to law enforcement and the general public. If they are encountered, call local law enforcement immediately."

McCluskey and Welch are also suspected in the killings of a couple whose bodies were found in their burned out camper earlier this month in New Mexico, according to authorities.

Authorities said they are likely driving a gray, gold or tan 1997 Nissan Sentra, though both are experienced semitruck drivers known to have frequented truck stops, rest areas and campgrounds.