Pennsylvania inmate escaped through prison roof and down a sheet rope, court documents say


fugitive Michael Burham is likely still in the area around a northwest Pennsylvania prison and is likely getting help as he tries to elude 200 law enforcement officers who are looking for him, said Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens , at a news conference on Tuesday.

Burham allegedly climbed onto exercise equipment Thursday to leave through a roof and down a sheet rope to escape the Warren County Jail, court documents show with new details on the day he escaped from jail.

Surveillance footage shows Burham and other inmates going in and out of his cell, according to the criminal complaint filed Friday by the city of Warren.

The search continued Tuesday for Burham, who authorities described as “armed and dangerous” with survival skills and military reserve experience. They said he escaped from prison while being held on charges of arson and burglary and was a homicide suspect.

Warren police said Burham “was also associated with the carjacking and previous kidnapping of a local couple while attempting to elude capture.”

Bivens said the evidence leads him to believe Burham is still around.

“We continue to find items. That makes me think there’s still a possibility he’s here,” he told reporters, without elaborating. Some of those items were found in the last 24 hours, he said. “I’m also looking at the absence of evidence that he went elsewhere.”

Law enforcement officers search for escaped inmate Michael Burham in Warren County, Pennsylvania on July 11, 2023.

Among the tips received “very regularly” were Monday evening and overnight reports of sightings of Burham, but Bivens said none of those investigations took place.

Investigators used rapid DNA tests at the cabins and other locations where the break-ins occurred, but none were matched to Burham — though some results are pending, according to Bivens.

Bivens told reporters that the pace and scope of the search had increased dramatically and that he believed Burham would be captured.

“We are not leaving. We will definitely imprison you again. It’s only a matter of time,” he said, addressing the escapee.

He also had a message for anyone helping Burham, saying they would be prosecuted.

Burham was seen walking around the prison gym yard around 10:41 p.m., while three other inmates sat on the ground talking, according to the complaint.

Around 11:26 p.m., Burham “was observed sitting on a pull-up machine” in the prison gym and exiting through a metal roof, the complaint states.

After escaping the hall, Burham “tied a rope consisting of several sheets tied together. (He) then tied that rope off the roof and let it hang over a porch,” the complaint states.

Burham continued to slide down the rope, “landing on the gantry and jumping off the gantry to the ground,” before fleeing the premises on foot, according to the complaint.

CNN also obtained court documents detailing the alleged kidnapping that landed Burham in jail in May.

Burham kidnapped an elderly couple — David and Jessica Anundson — at gunpoint from their home in Sheffield, Pennsylvania, on May 20, according to the Warren County criminal complaint.

Burham forced the couple into their vehicle and drove them to the North Charleston, South Carolina area, where he forced them into a cemetery and drove off, the complaint said.

The complaint also stated that the Anundsons were “in fear of serious bodily injury or death.”

Law enforcement officials believe Burham was either “staying on the property or nearby watching” the couple’s residence for about a week, based on information provided by the couple.

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