Authorities from local, state and federal agencies were searching Saturday for an inmate described by police as “very dangerous” who escaped from a jail in northwestern Pennsylvania using bed sheets, officials said.
Michael Burham, 34, escaped from a jail in Warren by climbing on exercise equipment and using bed sheets to escape through a window, authorities said. Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said Burham was being held in lieu of $1 million bail on kidnapping, burglary and other charges, and Warren police said he was a suspect in a homicide investigation.
Law enforcement officials believed Burham was still in the Warren area and had likely changed clothes since he escaped wearing a blue denim coat and orange jail jumpsuit, Bivens told a Saturday news conference. Burham is “a self-taught survivalist with military experience and could be potentially holed up in a wooded area,” Bivens said.
“He is considered very dangerous, and the public is asked to be vigilant and report anything out of the ordinary,” police said in a Facebook post.
The U.S. Marshalls Service was offering a $7,500 reward for information leading to Burham’s capture, and Crime Stoppers was offering $2,000, Bivens said.
Two decades ago on the opposite side of the commonwealth, an inmate being held on murder charges after bodies were unearthed on his Wilkes-Barre property took advantage of a botched repair job and used a rope fashioned from bed sheets to shimmy down from a seventh-floor cell in the Luzerne County prison. Officials said a window repaired after a 1989 escape attempt had two panes that were too small and secured only with caulking, so they were easily broken out.
Hugo Selenski spent three days on the lam after the October 2003 escape before turning himself in. Another inmate was injured in a fall during the escape attempt and was recaptured. Selenski beat two murder charges in a 2006 trial but was convicted of two murders in 2015 and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.