KINGMAN, Ariz. — A convicted killer who escaped from an Arizona prison planned to commit suicide-by-bear in the Montana wilderness, saying his brief freedom was overrated.
But Tracy Province had a change of heart and was arrested Aug. 9 about 60 miles from Yellowstone National Park.
“He had planned to go up in the mountains and shoot a gram of heroin and be bear food. He wanted to overdose and let the bears eat him,” said Mohave County sheriff’s Detective Larry Matthews. “He was making the drugs, and a voice told him ‘no.’ He called it divine intervention.”
Province, 42, pleaded guilty this month to charges stemming from the escape and faces dozens of additional years in prison when he is sentenced Friday. His attorney said Province had nothing to gain by defending himself because he already is serving a double life sentence for a 1991 robbery and murder.
Matthews interviewed Province after he was recaptured. He had lost 30 pounds during his month on the lam.
“He didn’t know why anyone would want to escape because all you do is look over your shoulder the entire time,” Matthews wrote in a report based on the interview.
Province, John McCluskey, 45, and Daniel Renwick, 36, escaped from prison in Golden Valley on July 30. They were helped, authorities say, by Casslyn Welch, 44, who is McCluskey’s first cousin and fiancee. Renwick split from the others and was recaptured Aug. 1 in Colorado.
In his report, Matthews outlined what Province told him during an Aug. 21 interview at the sheriff’s office in Kingman.
Province was careful not to use the names of McCluskey and Welch but clearly referred to them repeatedly.
The escape plot was hatched two weeks before the escape. The convicts jumped one fence and used wire cutters to cut through another. They escaped into the desert darkness and were surprised they didn’t see any law enforcement vehicles or helicopters for the next several hours. They hijacked a tractor-trailer rig that had stopped to switch drivers a few miles from the prison.
They traveled east to Flagstaff, where someone provided another vehicle. Province said he “freaked out” at the wheel because he hadn’t driven for more than 20 years while in prison and motorists were speeding by him on the freeway.
The trio headed east through New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma before doubling back.
At one point, they checked into and quickly out of a New Mexico motel after turning on the television and seeing a news report of the manhunt for them. They left so quickly that Province left a handgun in the room.
Province decided to separate from McCluskey and Welch after the slaying of an Oklahoma couple in New Mexico. McCluskey shot and killed the couple, federal authorities have said.
“He was very upset and told (McCluskey) he wasn’t in for that,” Matthews recounted in his report.
The trio traveled to an area outside Yellowstone National Park, where they separated.
McCluskey and Welch were arrested in Springerville, Ariz., on Aug. 19.