The couple who called about the tip that led to the capture of an escaped Pennsylvania inmate suspected of several crimes said they recognized him from the news after his dog tipped them off that someone was near their home. .
Michael Charles Burham, 34, was taken into custody at 5:50 p.m. Saturday in Warren County after a weeklong manhunt, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said. Cindy and Ron Ecklund led authorities to capture Burham after his dog’s barking alerted them to his presence.
Ron Ecklund said he got in a golf cart and drove to the creek near his property to investigate.
«The gentleman stood up and I asked him, ‘So what are you doing?'» Ecklynd told NBC News correspondent George Solis. «He said, ‘I’m camping.'»
He then told his wife, who was outside the golf cart, to get back in the cart so he could go back to the house.
«We weren’t halfway across the yard and I said, ‘Dial 911. I know exactly who it is,'» he said. «I’ve seen the picture of him enough, it’s been all over the news.»
The couple believe they may be eligible for the reward authorities have offered for information on Burham’s whereabouts, which increased to $22,000 on the Friday before his capture.
Burham escaped from the Warren County Jail on July 7 by climbing the metal roof racks of the jail yard. He then climbed down using bound sheets, authorities said.
Authorities described him as someone with «survival skills» who was comfortable in wooded areas for long periods of time. At least 15 federal and local departments had been searching the area for Burham over the course of eight days.
He was held at gunpoint and will be arraigned on a flight charge, Bivens said.
Burham was being held in the county on kidnapping and other related charges. He is accused of kidnapping a Warren County couple while he was on the run from authorities in New York, where he is a suspect in the May 11 murder of Kala Hodgkin.
Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said last month that there are currently no state charges against Burham in the murder case.
He was charged with fleeing to avoid prosecution in the US District Court for the Western District of 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 shot to death in her home. At the time of the murder, there was an active warrant accusing Burham of raping the woman, according to the complaint.
As police were on their way to Hodgkin’s home, they received a separate call that Burham had allegedly attempted to break into a former girlfriend’s home and then proceeded to set her car on fire, the complaint says.
Burham went on the run, leading authorities on a multi-state manhunt before his capture on May 24 in South Carolina, the Jamestown Police Department in New York said.
The complaint said Burham had kidnapped a couple at gunpoint from their Sheffield, Pennsylvania, home while on the run. They were found alive in a cemetery in North Charleston, South Carolina.
There was a note in her vehicle allegedly written by Burham telling her father she was «safe for now» and apologizing «for all the trouble I caused the family,» the complaint says.