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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Defendant sentenced for 2010 carjacking, murder of Tecumseh couple

  • Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, who loved to travel in their RV, were murdered in August 2010 after being carjacked as they traveled through New Mexico on their way to Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
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  • Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, who loved to travel in their RV, were murdered in August 2010 after being carjacked as they traveled through New Mexico on their way to Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
    Four years later, the man and two accomplices involved in their deaths have been sentenced for their crimes.
    On Tuesday, John Charles McCluskey, 49, was sentenced by a U.S. District Judge in New Mexico to serve life in prison, along with a consecutive term of 2,820 months, which is another 235 years behind bars.
    McCluskey and his co-defendants, Tracy Allen Province, 46, and Casslyn Mae Welch, 47, were charged with numerous capital offenses in an indictment arising from the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas, who were both 61 when they died.
    McCluskey was convicted in October of 20 counts of aggravated murder, carjacking and other charges for the slayings, but jurors deliberating his sentencing failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the death penalty, which resulted in an automatic life sentence that became official Tuesday.
    On Jan. 20, 2012, Province and Welch entered guilty pleas to crimes arising out of the carjacking and murder of the couple and agreed to testify during McCluskey’s capital trial. Monday, Province was sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of release and Welch was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
    “With the help of his conspirators, John Charles McCluskey mercilessly killed two innocent victims and burned their bodies as he fled law enforcement after escaping from prison,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Our thoughts are with those whose lives were changed forever by these heinous crimes.”
    The victims, who were high school sweethearts and GM retirees, were making their 11th summer trip to Colorado when they were kidnapped and killed for their truck and travel trailer.
    “Today’s sentencing hearing brings to a close a case that focused on an exceptionally violent episode in the summer of 2010, during which John Charles McCluskey and Tracy Allen Province escaped from prison with help from Casslyn Mae Welch, committed multiple kidnappings during their interstate flight from justice, and mercilessly killed two innocent victims to eliminate them as witnesses,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez of the District of New Mexico.
    “While the sentences imposed on McCluskey and his co-conspirators cannot restore the loss of Gary and Linda Haas, I hope that they bring some measure of comfort and closure to their families and friends and I commend the prosecutors and investigators who worked tirelessly to seek justice for Gary and Linda Haas,” Martinez added.
    The couple’s only child, Cathy Byus, was among a few family members who went to New Mexico after the killing and followed progress in the case, but she didn’t live long enough herself to see the final justice for her parents. Byus, at age 35, became a victim of homicide in Shawnee in 2013; her husband is now serving a 40-year prison term.
    Page 2 of 2 - Linda Haas was a budding photographer who loved computer work and Gary Haas loved to go fishing. Before their deaths, the couple had taken up a new hobby of going to garage sales.
    Gary Haas had served in the U.S. Air Force and worked in construction before going to work as an electrician at General Motors in Oklahoma City in 1978. He enjoyed rebuilding tractors, trucks, boats and dune buggies. Linda Haas earned her teaching degree from Missouri Southern, and taught before she began work at General Motors in 1979 in Oklahoma City, where she was a tool and die specialist and also trained and educated GM employees. Both retired from GM in 2007 and began to enjoy an abundance of traveling in their retirement.
    Both were laid to rest in their hometown of Southwest City, Missouri, where Byus is now also interred.
     

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