Pennsylvania prison escapee with ‘survival skills’ in custody after manhunt

The manhunt for an escaped prisoner in Pennsylvania suspected of multiple crimes, including the murder of a New York woman, ended Saturday evening, state police said.

Michael Charles Parham, 34, was taken into custody Saturday at 5:50 p.m. in Warren County, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said.

Authorities were alerted to the dog’s whereabouts after residents heard the dog barking and went to see why. They met a man and asked why he was there, and the man mentioned camping, Bivens said.

They identified Parham as the property owner and left to contact authorities, who fled into the woods, he said.

“That was our strategy all along,” Bivens said, “to push him hard, make him make mistakes, and he finally did.

Parham escaped from the Warren County Jail on July 7 by climbing through metal plates on the roof of the jail yard. He then climbed down using bedsheets tied together, officials said.

Within minutes, staff realized he was missing and authorities began an eight-day operation The manhunt involved 15 federal and state agencies.

Bivens said the fugitive was caught Saturday by a perimeter of law enforcement officers who surrounded him in the woods about 5 miles north of Warren.

“He confronted the perimeter troopers there, went out and tried to hide, and was approached from behind,” as law enforcement officers closed in on him from behind, Bivens said.

Bloodhounds and other police tracking dogs were used in the final search for Parham. “He was tracked down and pushed by members of a tactical team,” Bivens said.

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He was taken into custody at gunpoint and will be arrested on charges of escape, he said.

Authorities said earlier Saturday they believed the fugitive was in the Warren area. Bivens said police conducted at least one search of the area that was promising but ultimately inconclusive.

While the hunt was underway, Bivens warned that it was “absolutely possible” Barham was armed and that no one should approach him if he was seen. He said Saturday that he did not have a weapon when he was caught.

Warren County spokeswoman Cecile Stelter noted that Barham has “survival skills” and is comfortable living in wooded areas.

Authorities are continuing to investigate whether Parham had any help when he fled.

He was being held in Parham County on kidnapping and other related charges. He is accused of kidnapping a Warren County couple while fleeing from authorities in New York, a suspect in Kala Hodgkin’s May 11 murder.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said last month that there are currently no state charges against Burman in the murder.

He was charged with flight to avoid prosecution in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in May. The case was dismissed without prejudice on June 16, according to court records.

A federal criminal complaint says Hodgkin was shot to death in his home. At the time of the murder, Parham had an active arrest warrant accusing him of sexually assaulting the woman, according to the complaint.

While police were on their way to Hodgkin’s home, they received a separate call that Barham had allegedly tried to break into an ex-girlfriend’s home and then set her car on fire, the complaint states.

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Barham ran off leading authorities on a multi-state manhunt before he was captured in South Carolina on May 24, according to the Jamestown Police Department in New York.

Parham allegedly kidnapped a couple at gunpoint in their Sheffield, Pennsylvania home while on the run. They were found alive in a cemetery in North Charleston, South Carolina.

In their vehicle was a note allegedly written by Barham, saying he was “safe for now” and apologizing for “all the trouble I’ve caused the family.”

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