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Arizona woman who sparked nationwide manhunt pleads guilty to manslaughter

Susan Barksdale, 61, and her husband attempted to outrun law enforcement in 2019 after they became suspects in the disappearance of a 72-year-old Tucson man.

TUCSON, Ariz. — A woman who prompted a nationwide manhunt after escaping custody with her husband in 2019 has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a Tucson murder case.

Prosecutors say 61-year-old Susan Barksdale entered into a plea agreement Wednesday and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10. 

Her 58-year-old husband, Blane Barksdale, still is facing a first-degree murder charge and has a scheduled plea hearing Friday in Pima County Superior Court. 

The couple was charged in the disappearance of 72-year-old Frank Bligh, whose Tucson home burned down in an April 2019 explosion and fire. 

The Barksdales were arrested in New York in May 2019, but escaped from a transport van during extradition to Tucson three months later. 

The couple avoided capture for 16 days before being re-arrested in northern Arizona.

RELATED: Timeline: Weeks-long manhunt for escaped Arizona murder suspects ends in Tonto Basin

RELATED: Search continues for fugitive couple who escaped during transport to Arizona

Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast in 2019.

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