Tracy Province, Prison Escapee/Bear-Food Wannabe, Pleads Not Guilty to Murder

The Arizona prison escapee who planned to commit suicide-by-bear while a fugitive last summer has pleaded not guilty to two murders he allegedly committed while on the run in New Mexico.

Tracy Province was in federal court in Albuquerque this morning, where he pleaded not guilty to the murders of Linda and Gary Haas -- both 61 and from Tecumseh, Oklahoma.

Province, who along with John McCluskey and Daniel Renwick, escaped from the Kingman prison in July of last year, was sentenced last week to 38 years in prison for the escape, as well as kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and weapons misconduct stemming from crimes committed in Arizona after his escape.

On Saturday, the U.S. Marshal's Service said Province was taken to New Mexico to face the murder charges

Province, McCluskey, and Renwick escaped from the Kingman Prison -- with the help of McCluskey's fiancee/cousin Casslyn Welch -- on July 30 of last year.

While on the run, authorities say the Province, McCluskey, and Welch murdered the Hasses.

The victims, who were about to become grandparents, were on their annual summer trip to Colorado when their paths crossed with the escaped inmates.

Authorities believe the couple met the inmates at a rest area along Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico.

It's believed the couple were shot in their travel trailer before the inmates and Welch drove it to a remote area, unhitched the Hass' truck, and torched the trailer with the bodies of the couple inside.

Province was captured in Wyoming just over a week after escaping from prison. He later told detectives his plan was to overdose on heroin, go into the woods, and "become bear food." He said "divine intervention" kept him from carrying out his suicidal plan.

Province, McCluskey, and Welch each face the death penalty if convicted of the murders.

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James King
Contact: James King