Person of interest in murder arrested after televised pleas lead to tips from locals
(NEW YORK) — A person of interest in a New York murder, accused of a crime spree as he fled from police, was arrested in South Carolina, thanks partly to local tips and attention from a national crime television show, law enforcement officials said.
Michael Charles Burham, 34, was found after an exhaustive weeks-long search that ended after a resident spotted him in their backyard, police said.
“He obviously looked like he had been in the woods for some time,” Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis told reporters about his Wednesday capture. “We gave him some water … he blurted out that you know he had been on the run and he wanted something to drink.”
Burham had three separate warrants for his arrest at the time of his arrest, according to the FBI.
He had been considered armed and dangerous, wanted for allegedly raping a victim in New York, holding an elderly couple hostage in Pennsylvania and being a person of interest in a New York murder before he was captured on Wednesday, officials said.
The search for Burham began in Jamestown, New York, where he was charged with rape and unlawful imprisonment of a woman for an incident on March 13, 2023, police said.
Burham is also believed to be related to the murder of 34-year-old Kala Hodgkin on May 11, according to the Jamestown Police Department.
Burham allegedly drove a rental car from Pennsylvania to the area of the New York homicide, then returned his rental car the next day to Warren, Pennsylvania. Law enforcement described Burham as a “suspect” and a “person of interest” in the case.
During the manhunt, Burham allegedly kidnapped an elderly couple at gunpoint on May 20, eventually driving the couple from Sheffield, Pennsylvania, to North Charleston, South Carolina, according to the FBI.
The search for Burham gained momentum with the help of tips from locals and a national television show.
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.
“Due to the national attention that this case is now receiving, we are receiving multiple tips from across the country regarding Burham’s whereabouts,” Jamestown Police Department wrote Saturday.
A tip from a South Carolina resident on Tuesday afternoon breathed life into the search, though officers could not respond to the report quickly enough to spot Burham themselves.
“We did not get that information, however, until about seven o’clock that night after the newscast and after you all publicized that,” Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano told reporters.
Graziano urged the public to keep a watchful but concerned eye for Burham, citing his possible desperation after being on the run for weeks, and asked residents to check everything from their deer stands to their doorbell camera for a sign of Burham.
“This guy is dangerous,” she noted. “This is a fugitive; he is desperate, he’s tired, he’s hungry.”
The call eventually came from a resident around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, after Burham was spotted behind a shed, according to Lewis.
Burham was taken into custody at 5:17 p.m., with officials thanking the public for their involvement in the successful manhunt.
The Berkeley County Sheriff’s office posted a photo of the handcuffed Burham, dressed in a muddy pair of basketball shorts and a tee shirt, flanked by FBI agents in tactical gear.
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