Federal, state and local agencies were continuing to search Sunday for an inmate who escaped from a Pennsylvania prison using a rope made of bed sheets, authorities said.
The City of Warren Police Department said Michael Charles Burham, 34, escaped from the Warren County Prison on Thursday by tying sheets together to make a rope and using it to slide off the roof of the prison, reported the Erie Times-News, part of the USA TODAY Network.
Burham is wanted in connection with the killing of a woman in Jamestown, New York, on May 11, the publication reported. He is accused of fleeing the area after her death, which led to a multi-agency manhunt that ended with his arrest in South Carolina on May 24.
Burham – who has not been charged in the homicide – has been charged with kidnapping an elderly couple and stealing their SUV at gunpoint on May 20 to drive to South Carolina, the Times-News reported.
Burham was being held on a $1 million bond in the kidnapping case.
Who is Michael Burham?
Burham is “dangerous” and “should not be approached,” Warren city police said.
In a Saturday news conference, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said Burham is a “self-taught survivalist with military experience and could be potentially holed up in a wooded area,” The Associated Press reported.
The U.S. Marshalls Service was offering a $7,500 reward for information leading to Burham’s capture, and Crime Stoppers was offering $2,000, Bivens said.
Police urge residents to lock their doors and stay vigilant
Police said Burham was last seen at around 11:20 p.m. local time Thursday wearing an orange and white striped jumpsuit, a blue denim jacket and Crocs.
“All citizens are urged to lock their doors and stay vigilant,” Warren police said. “The public is asked to report anything unusual to law enforcement by calling 911 and they should expect to see an increase in law enforcement presence in the area.”
Police said Burham’s whereabouts remain unknown, and the search area has expanded beyond Warren.
“The Pennsylvania State Police have assumed incident command due to geographical jurisdictions and resources as the search expands throughout the county and into areas of (New York),” police said Saturday.
Burham used sheets to escape Warren County prison
Warren County dispatchers were alerted at 11:26 p.m. local time Thursday on a report that Burham had escaped, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday morning, the Erie Times-News reported. Another inmate notified the prison staff that Burham had escaped, according to the complaint and its affidavit of probable cause.
A review of surveillance video showed that Burham and three other inmates gathered in the gym at 10:41 p.m., according to the complaint and affidavit. At 11:26 p.m., Burham was seen standing on an exercise machine, and then “exited the yard” through a metal-gated roof.
“The defendant tied a rope which consisted of multiple sheets tied together. The defendant then tied said rope from the roof and allowed it to hang on a portico,” the complaint said. “The defendant slid down the rope, landing on the portico, and jumped from the portico to the ground. He then took off on foot.”
Where is Warren County, Pennsylvania?
Warren County is about 90 miles south of Buffalo, New York, and 140 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Burham is a suspect in the murder case of Kala Hodgkin
Burham is considered a suspect in the murder case of Kala Hodgkin, according to court records. Hodgkin, 34, was found shot to death on May 11 in Jamestown, according to a criminal complaint the FBI in Buffalo filed against Burham in the kidnapping case.
At the time Hodgkin was killed, Burham was facing a charge that he raped her, and the arrest warrant in that case was still active, according to the FBI.
Burham kidnapped elderly couple, FBI says
On May 20, Pennsylvania State Police received a report that an elderly couple from Sheffield, near Warren, was missing, and their Honda SUV was gone from their residence, according to the FBI.
On May 21, the couple was found unhurt in a cemetery in North Charleston, South Carolina. The FBI said the couple identified Burham as their kidnapper and said he had abducted them at gunpoint at their home.
Contributing: The Associated Press