Escaped Pennsylvania inmate caught after barking dog led to police tip

The manhunt for the escaped Pennsylvania inmate who is suspected in several crimes, including the murder of a New York woman, ended Saturday evening, state police said.

Michael Charles Burham, 34, was taken into custody by 5:50 p.m. Saturday in Warren County, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said.

Officials were tipped off to his location after residents heard their dog barking and went to see why. They encountered a man and asked him why he was there, to which the man mentioned camping, Bivens said.

They property owner recognized Burham and left to contact officials, and Burham fled into the woods, he said.

“That’s been our strategy all along,” Bivens said, “to push him hard, to have him make him make a mistake. He finally did.”

Burham escaped from the Warren County Jail on July 7 by climbing through the metal grates of the jail yard’s roof. He then climbed down using tied-together bedsheets, authorities said.

Staff members realized he was missing within minutes, and authorities began an eight-day manhunt that involved 15 federal and state agencies.

Bivens said Burham was ensnared Saturday in a perimeter of law enforcement officers that was closing in on him in woods about 5 miles north of the city of Warren.

“He encountered perimeter troopers there, attempted to prone out and hide, and was approached from behind” by law enforcement officers, Bivens said.

Bloodhounds and other police tracking dogs were used in the final search. “He was being tracked and pushed by a line of tactical members,” Bivens said.

Burham was arrested at gunpoint and will be arraigned on an escape charge, he said.

Authorities said earlier Saturday they believe he had remained in the Warren area. Bivens said police conducted at least one search in the region that was promising but ultimately inconclusive.

As the manhunt was underway, Bivens cautioned area residents that it is “entirely likely” that Burham was armed and that no one should approach him if they see him. He said Saturday that Burham was not armed when he was captured.

Cecile Stelter, a spokesperson for Warren County, said Burham is known to have "survivalist skills" and is comfortable living in wooded areas.

Officials continue to investigate whether Burham had any help on the run.

He was being held in the county on kidnapping and other related charges. He is accused of having kidnapped a Warren County couple while on the run from authorities in New York, where is a suspect in the May 11 murder of Kala Hodgkin.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said last month that there were no state charges against Burman in the murder case.

He was charged with flight to avoid prosecution in U.S. District Court for Western New York in May. The case was dismissed without prejudice on June 16, according to court records.

A federal criminal complaint alleges that Hodgkin was found fatally shot at her home. At the time of the killing, there was an active arrest warrant charging Burham with raping her, according to the complaint.

While police were on their way to Hodgkin’s home, a separate call came in that Burham had allegedly tried to break into an ex-girlfriend’s home and then set her car on fire, the complaint says.

Burham went on the run, leading authorities on a multistate manhunt before he was captured May 24 in South Carolina, the Jamestown Police Department in New York said.

The complaint said Burham kidnapped a couple at gunpoint at their home in Sheffield, Pennsylvania, while on the run. They were found alive in a cemetery in North Charleston, South Carolina.

A note in their vehicle allegedly written by Burham told his father he was “safe for now” and apologized “for all the problems I caused the family,” the complaint says.

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