PAYSON, Ariz. — The mother of one of three inmates who escaped from a northwestern Arizona prison was arrested Saturday after authorities suspected she helped two of them.
Claudia Washburn, 68, was arrested at her home and place of business in Jakes Corner south of Payson on charges of conspiracy to commit escape, hindering prosecution and facilitation to commit escape, said Thomas Henman, supervisory deputy at the U.S. Marshals Service.
He said Washburn is the mother of John McCluskey, who escaped from the medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman with Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick on July 30.
Authorities believe McCluskey's fiancee and cousin — 44-year-old Casslyn Welch of Mesa — helped the inmates escape by throwing wire cutters over the prison fence.
Henman said Washburn is suspected of giving financial and other types of support to help McCluskey, Province and Welch. Renwick was arrested Aug. 1 in Rifle, Colo. following a brief car chase and shoot-out.
Washburn lives and works at the general store in Jakes Corner. Investigators were searching the store and Washburn's apartment for evidence.
The Arizona Department of Corrections says the three men escaped by cutting a hole in the prison's perimeter fence and later kidnapping two semi-truck drivers at gunpoint and using the big rig to flee. The group left the drivers unharmed in the truck at a stop just off Interstate 40 in Flagstaff and then fled.
Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery out of Pima County. McCluskey was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm out of Maricopa County. Renwick had been serving a 22-year sentence for second-degree murder.
A nationwide search was under way for McCluskey, Province and Welch. The group may be using a 1997 platinum gold Nissan Sentra with Arizona license plate 6-2-0-P-F-V.