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Murder suspect escapes from jail weeks after captured following prior manhunt

Jamestown Police Department

(JAMESTOWN, N.Y.) — Authorities are searching for a homicide suspect who escaped from a Pennsylvania jail just weeks after he was captured following a dayslong manhunt.


Michael Burham, 34, is a suspect in homicide and rape cases in Jamestown, New York, police said. He was being held in the Warren County Jail in northern Pennsylvania on arson and burglary charges and was also associated with the carjacking and kidnapping of a Pennsylvania couple while trying to evade capture in May, according to Jamestown police.

Burham escaped from the Warren County Jail sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning, Warren County spokesperson Cecile Stelter told reporters. He was last seen around 11:20 p.m. Thursday wearing an orange-and-white-striped jumpsuit, a denim jacket and Crocs, police said.

Burham escaped from the recreation yard by “elevating himself” on top of exercise equipment and exiting the yard through a metal-grated roof, Stelter said. He then used bed sheets that had been tied together to lower himself to the ground and flee on foot, she said.

Burham normally would have been restrained while moving through the jail, but would not have been restrained in the recreation yard, according to Stelter.

Jamestown police urged residents to lock their doors and “stay vigilant” amid the search for the homicide suspect.

“He is considered dangerous by his past actions and the public is asked not to approach him, but if they see anything unusual to call 911,” Stelter said.

Burham previously led authorities on a multi-state manhunt and had three warrants for his arrest by the time he was apprehended on May 24.

Burham was initially wanted after being charged with the rape and unlawful imprisonment of a woman for an incident in Jamestown on March 13, authorities said. Local police had issued a warrant for his arrest in that case on April 27.

Amid that manhunt, Burham allegedly kidnapped an elderly couple at gunpoint on May 20 in Sheffield, Pennsylvania, and drove them to North Charleston, South Carolina, according to the FBI. He was charged with kidnapping and a warrant was issued for his arrest out of Warren County, Pennsylvania.

Burham was eventually captured in South Carolina on May 24 after a resident spotted him in their backyard, police said. “On Patrol: Live,” a program that airs on Reelz, included a segment about the manhunt for Burham, which the New York law enforcement credited for helping the investigation.

Burham was previously named a person of interest in the killing of 34-year-old Kala Hodgkin on May 11 in Jamestown. Amid the latest manhunt, Jamestown police are now referring to Burham as a suspect in that case.

Federal, state and local resources are being utilized in the search.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Jamestown Police Department’s anonymous tip line at 716-483-8477.

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