Family of couple allegedly murdered by escapees suing State of Ariz.Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX – The family of a couple killed last summer, allegedly by two escapees from an Arizona prison filed a lawsuit Thursday against the State of Arizona, the Department of Corrections and the operator of the private prison from which the suspects escaped.
Last July, John McCluskey, Daniel Renwick and Tracy Province escaped from the private prison near Kingman with the help of McCluskey’s cousin and fiance, Casslyn Welch.
A few days after the escape, Province, McCluskey and Welch allegedly killed Gary and Linda Haas.
The Oklahoma couple was traveling in New Mexico when they encountered the trio at a rest stop on Interstate 40 in the eastern part of the state. The charred remains of Gary and Linda Haas, both 61, were found with their burned-out camper near Santa Rosa, N.M.
The couple's car was discovered about 100 miles away in Albuquerque several hours later.
Province was taken into custody in Wyoming a few after the murders. McCluskey and Welch were caught at a camp site in Springerville a several days later, three weeks after McCluskey and his cohorts escaped from prison.
All three face capital murder and carjacking charges.
Thursday morning, attorneys for Cathy Byus, the Haases' daughter, filed a lawsuit seeking $40 million in damages. The suit was expanded from the original claim to include Dominion Asset Services, which, according to the family, installed a faulty alarm system at the prison.
The family claims that murders of Gary and Linda Haas were the result of a series errors and negligence on the part of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
The facility near Kingman came under intense scrutiny in the weeks after the escape, which was was blamed on a combination of human error and systemic failure. Not long after the escape, the prison warden, Lori Lieder, and a security chief resigned.
One of the big questions was why McCluskey, Renwick, and Province, all of whom were known to be violent, were in a medium-security facility.
Under the current system, the state assigns each inmate a risk number between one and five, one being the lowest risk and five the highest. Over time, that risk number can be adjusted based on the inmate's behavior.
Authorities said the system works when it's used properly, but it can also allow violent offenders to be placed in less-secure facilities.
There has been talk of revamping the risk-number system, which was put in place in 1978 after an inmate escaped from prison and went on a killing spree.