For three weeks, reports CBS news, John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch were fugitives. Welch allegedly helped McCluskey, her cousin and fiance, escape from prison with two fellow prisoners by throwing wire cutters onto prison grounds to cut open a fence. The two prisoners who escaped with them are back in custody.
The pair has several alleged charges facing them as a result of their flight.
Alerts were run on television stations and placed at campgrounds and truck stops. On Thursday, a forest ranger tipped the police regarding a suspicious campsite. As a team descended on the site, Welch reached for and then dropped a weapon. McCluskey was in a sleeping bag and offered no resistance as he was taken into custody.
What might lie in store for them, compared to similar cases?
McCluskey and Welch
McCluskey was serving a sentence for attempted second-degree murder. On July 30, 2010, Welch allegedly aided him and two other prisoners escape from a privately run Kingman, Ariz., prison.
McCluskey, reports KRQE.com, now faces charges of kidnapping, escape, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and misconduct with weapons. Welch’s charges are very similar.
Richard Paul Boucher, aka Eric Coleman, and Debbie Boucher, aka Debbie Coleman
The Virginian-Pilot reported that, in 1981, Boucher was sentenced to 10 years for beating and robbing a Coast Guardsman and four sailors. On Oct. 24, 1982, he and another inmate allegedly struck a prison guard in the head with a clothes iron and escaped from Tidewater Correctional Unit No. 22.
According to Boucher, he thought he could make things right on the outside, so he asked his wife, Debbie, to meet him with a car near Tidewater Correctional Unit No. 22. They abandoned their car in North Carolina and walked. The woods provided a fairly safe place to sleep at night. They settled in northern Georgia, assumed the names of Eric and Debbie Coleman, and had a daughter. (The man who escaped with them was captured in 1984.)
The community donated a trailer for them, and they got odd jobs for money, including cleaning stables at a local ranch. However, in May 2009, the FBI and Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office closed in on their small trailer. Someone had given the sheriff’s office a tip that Eric was a wanted man. They determined that Coleman was an alias, and alerted the FBI. The couple was taken into custody without incident. Debbie Boucher was charged with hindering apprehension of a criminal. Richard Boucher was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.
Subsequent legal proceedings for the Bouchers
In September of 2009, reported CorrectionsoneNews, Debbie Boucher pleaded guilty to obstruction of law enforcement. The Georgia court system sentenced her to 1 year probation and 40 hours of community service. On Jan. 21, 2010, a Circuit Court judge in Virginia, where Richard Boucher was extradited to, sentenced him to 5 years in prison. He was eligible for parole on his original charge in May 2010. Judge V. Thomas Forehand Jr. told Boucher he did not feel sorry for him; although public sympathy might be on his side, he was not.
Subsequent legal proceedings for McCluskey and Welch
Given the alleged crimes that were committed during the three weeks McCluskey and Welch were fleeing from the law, I doubt that they will receive the leniency and public sympathy that was tendered to the Bouchers. While the Bouchers chose to walk to their future home when their car was no longer a refuge for them, McCluskey and Welch allegedly had no specific plan in mind on where they were going, or how they were going to survive. A long trail of sorrow and misery by victims and their families was created in just a short time.
Things that could work in their favor are crowded court dockets and prisons, and an often-seen willingness on the part of state and federal law enforcement agencies to work toward a swift resolution, often giving plea bargains to minimize the cost of trial.
CBS/AP, Fugitive Pair Captured in Ariz. after Manhunt
HispanicBusinesses.com, UPI, Fugitives McCluskey, Welch Nabbed in Arizona
Bill Diven, McCluskey, Welch bond set at $1 million
Kristin Davis, Ex-fugitive on the run for 27 years behind bars in Virginia
Kristin Davis, Fugitive says life on run was full of loneliness, loss and lies
Louis Hansen, After 27 years on the run, Va. escapee gets 5-year term