Authorities: Wire cutters aided AZ inmates’ escape

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Three convicted murderers escaped a privately run prison in Arizona by using wire cutters that a woman threw over a fence, a state Department of Corrections spokesman said Tuesday.

Officials also said prison staff didn’t realize the inmates were missing Friday until after sensors on the perimeter fence sounded and a 9 p.m. head count, which came five hours after the three were last accounted for by prison staff.

The woman who authorities say helped in the escape is Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, of Mesa — the fiancee and cousin of John McCluskey, one of the three inmates. She was waiting outside the prison in Kingman as the inmates breached a perimeter fence with the wire cutters and escaped, said department spokesman Barrett Marson.

A security camera captured Welch driving a blue sedan around the facility that holds minimum- and medium-security inmates.

Corrections Director Charles Ryan has said “lax” security created an opportunity for the men to escape. He’s scheduled to meet with representatives of the prison operator, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., on Wednesday, Marson said.

“We are going over everything that happened during the night of the escape, and many issues will be addressed with MTC,” Marson said.

A spokesman for MTC, Carl Stuart, declined to comment on security at the 3,508-bed facility.

The local sheriff’s office wasn’t alerted until more than an hour after prison staff discovered the three were missing, and state corrections officials found out about the escape at 11:37 p.m., Maroon said.

Daniel Renwick, 36, was captured Sunday near Rifle.


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