Home » Escaped ‘survivalist’ murder suspect draws parallels to 48-day manhunt for Pennsylvania cop killer Eric Frein

Escaped ‘survivalist’ murder suspect draws parallels to 48-day manhunt for Pennsylvania cop killer Eric Frein

by Mahmmod Shar

Michael Burham is an Army Reserve veteran and experienced survivalist

By Michael Ruiz

The search for Michael Burham, a 35-year-old suspected killer who escaped from a Pennsylvania jail Thursday night and has since led police on a manhunt through the woods and mountains along the border with New York, is reminiscent of another chase through mountains – the seven-week search for cop killer Eric Frein experts say.

Burham, an Army Reserve veteran of nearly 12 years and a skilled survivalist, may also be receiving assistance while on the run near the Allegheny National Forest on the border of Pennsylvania and New York, according to authorities.

Matt Mangino, a former Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, district attorney, said the case reminds him of the 48-day hunt for Frein in 2014 – which took place in the Poconos on the other side of the state.

Eric Matthew Frein bloody face mug shot after 2014 arrest in pennsylvania police killing
Eric Matthew Frein, then 31, is pictured in this October 2014 handout photo obtained by Reuters October 31, 2014. The bloodied suspect was later convicted of killing a Pennsylvania state trooper in a sniper attack received the death penalty, prosecutors said, after a seven-week manhunt in the Pocono Mountains ended with his arrest October 30, 2014. He had eluded capture by hundreds of law enforcement officers since the September 12 ambush outside a state police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania. (REUTERS/Pike County Correctional Facility/Handout via Reuters )

“They’re both self-taught survivalists,” he told Fox News Digital. “Frein was a person who was involved in military reenactments and stuff like that and basically taught himself survival skills as well as being a marksman. And it appears that Michael Burham is the same sort of person.”

Frein shot two Pennsylvania state troopers in the Blooming Grove barracks in 2014, killing one and critically wounding the other. He had hoped to incite a rebellion against the U.S. government, according to prosecutors, who secured a conviction and death sentence in the case. Frein has been on death row since 2017.

Michael Burham wearing a hat and backpack in the woods
Michael Burham is accused of a sexual assault in Jamestown, New York, and the kidnapping of an elderly couple in Pennsylvania, whom he allegedly drove to South Carolina before releasing them, unharmed, the FBI said. (FBI)

However, before his capture, he lived off the land in the Pocono Mountains, until a U.S. Marshals-led task force captured him at an airfield about 100 miles north of Philadelphia.

Burham’s motives remained unclear Wednesday as the manhunt entered its sixth day.

“Warren County and the surrounding area is very rural,” Mangino said. “It’s right on the Allegheny National Forest … so there are a lot of places to hide – and if you have the survival skills, there’s gonna be a lot of opportunity to evade police.”

Eric Matthew Frein is taken by police officers into Pike County Courthouse for an arraignment in Milford, Pennsylvania
Eric Matthew Frein is taken by police officers into Pike County Courthouse for an arraignment in Milford, Pennsylvania, October 31, 2014. Frein, the survivalist convicted of killing a Pennsylvania state trooper in a sniper attack in September of that year, was sentenced to death in 2017. He led police on a seven-week manhunt in the Pocono Mountains. (REUTERS/Mark Makela )

“You can’t stay on the run forever,” Mangino said. “At some point, it’s going to become very burdensome to keep up that pace, to live off the land, to evade police.”

Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said during a news briefing that authorities would force the suspect to make a mistake, then take advantage.

Eric Frein current mug shot
Convicted cop killer Eric Frein is on death row in Pennsylvania. He led police on a 48-day manhunt in 2014 after shooting two state troopers, wounding one and killing the other. (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections)

“It’s inevitable that police are going to find him,” Mangino said. “It just depends how long it’s going to take and what other damage or victims might come about because of this man.”

Burham is the prime suspect in the May 11 shooting of Kala Hodgkin in Jamestown, New York, about 20 miles from the Pennsylvania line.

After that incident, he allegedly torched a parked car and kidnapped a Pennsylvania couple as he made his way south.

South Carolina police and the FBI chased him through parts of the Francis Marion National Forest to finish another manhunt that lasted almost two weeks.

It ended with police dragging a mud-covered Burham out of the brush after a local resident reported a suspicious encounter on his rural property.

Anthony Phillips, the resident, spotted a pair of shoes near his shed while patrolling his property upon the advice of the local sheriff.

Michael Burham in dirty clothes led out of the woods by FBI
The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina shared this image after Michael Burham’s capture on May 23, following a manhunt that began with violent crimes in New York and Pennsylvania. He used a rope made out of bedsheets to climb out of jail on July 6. (Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office)

“When he stood up, he was very cool, calm and collected,” Phillips told Fox News Digital.

However, Phillips, protective of his girlfriend, his dog and the public at large, began shouting.

Burham grabbed his shoes and ran off into the woods, he said. Phillips and his girlfriend called 911, and police arrived in about 5 minutes. Less than two hours later, they captured Burham.

Seth Ferranti, the writer and producer of Netflix’s hit documentary “White Boy,” was on the U.S. Marshals’ Top 15 Most Wanted list from 1991 to 1993, on the run from a 25-year sentence for nonviolent drug trafficking charges. He was eventually captured, served his time and became a documentarian after his release.

Seth Ferranti Wanted Poster
Seth Ferranti spent part of the early 1990s on the U.S. Marshals Top 15 Most Wanted list. (US Marshals)

“A lot of county jails are not very secure,” Ferranti told Fox News Digital. “This guy examined and exploited this jail’s security faults. He watched and planned and got the sheets he needed and stashed them until it was time. I’m sure he was in that rec area every day looking for a way to get out – and he found it.”

Police say Burham should be considered armed and dangerous and that he may be receiving assistance as he attempts to evade capture.

Michael Burham takes a selfie in a car while wearing a green beanie.
Michael Burham in an undated photo. Burham, a suspected killer, escaped a Pennsylvania jail last week by allegedly climbing down a rope made from bedsheets. (Fox News Digital)

“If he has access to guns, it probably won’t end nicely,” Ferranti warned.

“This dude is living off luck right now,” Ferranti said. “He’s desperate, has blinders on, and will literally do anything to stay free – not very romantic or glamorous.”

Burham escaped the Warren County jail in Pennsylvania last week, where he was being held on $1 million bail on charges including kidnapping and burglary.

If he is recaptured, prosecutors in New York said they intend to file second-degree murder charges in connection with Hodgkin’s death.

U.S. Marshals joined the manhunt Saturday, announcing a reward of up to $9,500 for information leading to his capture. Anyone who sees him should call 911.

While he has survivalist training and military experience, sources tell Fox News Digital he may run into trouble keeping himself fed in the wilderness and may not be as skilled living off the grid for long-term stints as he is at things like climbing and hiking.

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