YOUNGSVILLE, Pa. (WIVB) — Police have retracted a video of a sighting they believed was a confirmed sighting of escaped fugitive Michael Burham.
The video shows a man, which was believed to be Burham, walking past a home south of Warren. On Saturday, police retracted the video, saying that it was someone else, based on a tip coming forward that proved that it was not the fugitive.
Burham has been on the run for over a week now after escaping from the Warren County Jail in the late-night hours of July 6.
Burham is the “prime suspect” in the May killing of a Jamestown woman, 34-year-old Kala Hodgkin.
On Thursday, the Pennsylvania State Police released a photo of a stash they found in the forest near Warren, Pa., containing food, clothing and other items. They also announced the total award has been increased to $22,000 for information leading to his capture.
How did Michael Burham escape?
34-year-old Michael Charles Burham was last seen around 11:20 p.m. on Thursday, July 6. Officials said he used bed sheets and exercise equipment to escape from a recreation area of the jail, located on the top floor of the facility. Three other inmates were in the recreation area at the time of the escape, officials said. The inmates were under video surveillance from a different part of the jail.
“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.”
Police said that at the time of the escape, Burham was wearing his orange-and-white jumpsuit with a denim jacket and Crocs, although it is likely he has changed clothing since then. Police have said they don’t have evidence that Burham has changed his physical appearance since his escape, although it is possible. The photos above are the latest released photos of him.
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.
Why was Burham in the recreation yard late at night?
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.”
Why was Burham in jail?
This is the latest incident in Burham’s crime spree, which has lasted over two months.
He is the prime suspect in the killing of Hodgkin after her body was found in Jamestown on May 11. Within an hour of the discovery, police responded to a car fire, which apparently belonged to an ex-girlfriend of Burham’s. He also allegedly attempted to break into her home.
He evaded police for nearly two weeks after the incident. While on the run, he allegedly kidnapped an elderly couple and brought them to South Carolina, where he was captured on May 24. He was brought back to Pennsylvania on kidnapping and burglary charges and was being held on $1 million bail.
He has yet to face charges in relation to Hodgkin’s death.
You can see more in our full timeline of events.
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 July 7 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 his escape, but there is “no indication” that Burham was attached to any of them.
Will Michael Burham be captured?
Officials remain confident 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 Thursday, Bivens addressed Burham during a press conference.
“You need to surrender,” Bivens said. “Don’t do anything foolish that gets anyone else hurt, don’t get yourself hurt. We are going to capture you. We are going to bring you back into the criminal justice system. This just needs to end.”
‘Armed and dangerous’
Earlier this week, officials expressed “additional concern” that Burham is armed.
They noted that during his first time he ran from police, he came into possession of a gun. They suspect he will try to do so again.
Should I cancel my trip to the Allegany area?
Officials continue to believe that this is not necessary. While Burham is considered to be armed and dangerous, police said all residents and travelers need to do is remain vigilant. Doors should be locked and weapons and valuables should not be left in plain view.
The map below shows the location of Warren County Jail.
What should I do if I see him or have information on him?
If you think you see Burham, you are asked to call 911 immediately. Do not approach him.
With tips and/or information, you should call Pennsylvania State Police at 717-265-9650 or 717-265-9651.
Up to $22,000 in reward money has been offered, combined between Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers, U.S. Marshal and Warren County Crime Stoppers.
Latest information on the search for Michael Burham
- Warren County inmate charged with helping Michael Burham escape from jail
- Warren County prison board to meet following Burham capture
- PA prison escapee, Jamestown homicide suspect facing more charges
- ‘There’s absolutely zero chance that he’s going to be able to escape:’ Burham is now held in prison in Erie, Pa
- Dog fetches reward for helping capture escaped inmate Michael Burham
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.