YOUNGSVILLE, Pa. (WIVB) — Pennsylvania State Police released a photo Thursday of a stash that they believe belongs to escaped inmate Michael Burham.
It has been one week since Burham, the “prime suspect” in the May 2023 killing of a Jamestown woman, broke out of a jail in Warren County, Pennsylvania.
The stash was a camouflaged backpack and some type of other bag. Police said the stash, which was found wrapped in a tarp and hidden partially under a log, contained food, clothing and other materials. Police said it was found in a wooded area outside the city of Warren.
Police said they are “confident” that the stash belongs to the escaped inmate.
Additionally, police announced that the combined award between Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers, U.S. Marshals and Warren County Crime Stoppers has been increased by another $2,500, bringing it to a total of $22,000.
The Warren County Board of Commissioners, along with the Prison Board, held a meeting Wednesday to review the circumstances of how Burham’s escape took place, saying that repairs to the roof of the jail yard are necessary.
How did Michael Burham break out of jail?
Michael Charles Burham, 34, was last seen around 11:20 p.m. Thursday, July 6. Officials said he utilized a bed sheet and exercise equipment to escape from a recreation area of the jail. Several other inmates were in the area at the time. He was under video surveillance but it’s not clear if there were guards present.
“He elevated himself on top of a piece of exercise equipment and was able to exit the yard through a metal-gated roof,” Warren County spokesperson Cecile Stelter said. “He then used bed sheets that he tied together, and was able to escape to the ground from the roof.”
According to police, Burham was wearing a denim jacket and orange Crocs with his orange-and-white striped jumpsuit when he escaped, although it is believed that he has changed clothes since then.
Police said Monday they do not have evidence that Burham has changed his physical appearance since his escape, though it is possible. However, they believe the latest photos released of him wearing a beard are the most accurate pictures.
Why was Burham in the jail’s recreation area near midnight?
Warren County’s Commissioners and Jail Committee addressed this in a statement Wednesday.
“It’s important to understand that the law has changed in the past five years, and prisoners must have access to yard time and outside exercise. With a facility as small as ours that is close to full, inmates must be taken to the yard in shifts,” they wrote. “That happens all day and evening to ensure all inmates have appropriate yard time. Therefore, inmates are legally required to access the yard, and it is crucial for the Prison Board to ensure the facility is secure.”
How much of a head start did Michael Burham have on police?
Warren County Sheriff Brian Zeybel said Tuesday that the response time at the jail “couldn’t have been quicker.”
“Literally, I would say that Burham saw red and blue lights within two minutes of leaving that jail,” Zeybel said. “They were that close. The corrections officers were literally, within two minutes, in the parking lot. The direction of [Burham’s] travel was kind of confusing. The response time couldn’t have been quicker. It was that fast.”
Zeybel did acknowledge, however, that even if Burham saw police lights, officers didn’t see him.
Why was Michael Burham in jail?
Burham’s escape from Warren County Jail was the latest incident in a crime spree spanning two months.
Burham is the prime suspect in the killing of 34-year-old Kala Hodgkin in Jamestown, N.Y. in May. He evaded police for nearly two weeks after that incident, allegedly kidnapping an elderly couple in Pennsylvania before hiding out in South Carolina. He was eventually captured and brought back to Western New York in late June before being extradited to Pennsylvania to face kidnapping and burglary charges. He was being held on $1 million bail. Charges have not yet been filed in relation to Hodgkin’s death.
See more info in our timeline of events.
Possible sightings of Michael Burham
Police said that there have been several possible sightings called in by area residents, which led to specific searches in the area – including at a building at 3rd Avenue and Water Street on Friday night that lasted several hours, and reported break-ins to cabins in nearby forests.
However, police said that while there have been multiple reported break-ins in the area since Thursday night, but there is “no indication” that Burham was attached to any of them.
Will Michael Burham be captured?
Officials remain confident that they will capture Burham.
“I believe we are putting significant pressure on him. We’re actively pushing him in these areas. If he is here, he is not getting any rest,” Lt. Col. George Bivens said Monday. “I believe at some point we are going to force him to make a mistake, and when he does we will use that to our advantage.”
On Tuesday, Bivens spoke directly to Burham:
“We have structured this investigation and manhunt in a way that is it very sustainable. So, yes, we will continue to devote the resources to it. We’re not simply going to walk away. And that’s my message to Burham: We’re not going away. We absolutely will be incarcerating you again. It’s only a matter of time.”
‘Armed and dangerous’
Pennsylvania police said Wednesday they have “additional concern” that Burham is potentially armed.
They noted previously Burham came into possession of a gun during his previous run from police and suspect he will try to do so again. He should be considered armed and dangerous.
Should I cancel my trip to the Allegany area?
As of Tuesday, July 11, Pennsylvania State Police do not believe this is necessary. While Burham is considered armed and dangerous, police said all residents and travelers need to do is remain vigilant. All doors should be locked, and weapons and valuables should not be left in plain sight.
This map shows the location of Warren County Jail, located near Allegheny National Forest.
Reward for information on Michael Burham:
To report info or possible leads in the case, call Pennsylvania State Police at (717) 265-9650 or (717) 265-9651.
If you think you see Burham, you are advised to call 911 immediately. Do not approach him.
Up to $22,000 in reward money has been made available for information leading to the capture of Burham, police said. That is combined between Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers, U.S. Marshals and Warren County Crime Stoppers.
Latest news on the manhunt for Michael Burham
- Michael Burham ‘has the upper hand’ in forest he knows, ex-girlfriend says
- Burham’s jail escape evokes memories of Ralph ‘Bucky’ Phillips
- Police have ‘additional concerns’ that escaped inmate Michael Burham is armed | Manhunt Day 6
- Warren County Jail, where Burham broke out, needs repairs, review says
- Police to Michael Burham: “We absolutely will be incarcerating you again” | Manhunt Day 5
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.