Fugitive planned suicide by bear in Yellowstone

A voice told him not to go through with the plan
2011-01-27T17:00:00Z 2013-07-22T07:57:24Z Fugitive planned suicide by bear in YellowstoneThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 27, 2011 5:00 pm  • 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.  — A convicted killer who escaped from an Arizona prison had planned to overdose on heroin at Yellowstone National Park and let bears eat him, according to a sheriff's report.

Tracy Province told a sheriff's detective after his capture that he had wanted to go up on a mountain, shoot up a gram of heroin and "be bear food." As he was preparing the drug, a voice told him not to go through with the plan, and he changed course in favor of trying to hitchhike to Indiana to see family.

"He called it divine intervention," Mohave County sheriff's Detective Larry Matthews wrote in the August report.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported Province's interview Thursday.

Authorities say Province asked fellow convict John McCluskey and their alleged accomplice, Casslyn Mae Welch, to take him to Yellowstone, so they drove him to the Wyoming park from New Mexico. Province doesn't name anyone else in the interview with Matthews, but it's clear whom he's with.

The trio faces capital murder and carjacking charges in New Mexico.

Province has pleaded guilty to Arizona charges of escape, kidnapping, aggravated assault and armed robbery and is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. He then will be sent to New Mexico to face charges there.

Province, McCluskey and a third inmate, Daniel Renwick, escaped from a minimum-security prison near Kingman on July 30. Authorities say Welch helped them flee by throwing cutting tools over the perimeter fence.

Province told Matthews about his plan to commit suicide after he was returned to Arizona from Wyoming, where he was captured Aug. 9 in the sleepy town of Meeteetse, steps from a church where he sat in the pews and sang "Your Grace is Enough." A woman he talked to after church recognized him from a photograph on television.

Al Nash, a spokesman at Yellowstone National Park, said it's certainly possible that Province's plan to let bears eat him would work, but it struck him as improbable.

"We have a fair number of bears in the ecosystem," Nash said. "They eat about anything. A bear would rather get an easy meal than a difficult meal, but human bear encounters are very infrequent."

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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