Escaped Homicide Suspect Sentenced: The Shocking Truth Behind His Escape

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Homicide Suspect Who Escaped Pennsylvania Prison Sentenced to Decades Behind Bars

In a dramatic turn of events, Michael Burham, a homicide suspect who managed to escape from a prison in northwestern Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to serve 25-plus to 50-plus years in prison. Burham, 35, pleaded guilty in November to charges related to his escape and the earlier kidnapping of a Pennsylvania couple. The sentencing took place on Friday at Warren County Court.

A Grave Threat to the Public

The presiding judge, Gregory Hammond, did not mince words when describing Burham. He called him a “grave threat to the public” who would stop at nothing to maintain his freedom. Judge Hammond also expressed concern for the well-being of the kidnapping victims, an 89-year-old and a 68-year-old, stating that they would never fully recover from the trauma inflicted by Burham’s escape. In fact, the community has been deeply affected by this incident, more so than any other event in recent memory.

Escaped Homicide Suspect Sentenced: The Shocking Truth Behind His Escape

Pennsylvania homicide suspect Michael Burham, 35, is pictured after he was recaptured on July 15, 2023. Burham was sentenced Friday in Warren County Court after pleading guilty in November to charges in the July escape and the earlier kidnapping of a Pennsylvania couple. (Pennsylvania State Police via AP, File)

Sentencing Details

Judge Hammond handed down a sentence of 10 to 20 years for the kidnapping and burglary charges, as well as 3 1/2 to 7 years for the escape charge. These were the maximum terms allowed by law. Additionally, lesser terms were imposed for reckless endangering, terroristic threatening, and theft counts. The judge ordered some of the sentences to be served consecutively, ensuring that Burham will spend a substantial amount of time behind bars.

A Complex Character

Burham’s attorney, Chief Public Defender Kord Kinney, highlighted certain aspects of his client’s background. He pointed out that prior to these charges, Burham had only faced a driving under the influence count. Kinney also emphasized Burham’s 12 years of service in the Army reserves and his solid work history. According to Kinney, Burham is genuinely remorseful and fully understands the impact of his actions.

During the sentencing, Burham was given an opportunity to address the court. He took the chance to apologize to the victims and the entire community of Warren. He also expressed regret for mistreating correctional officers during his time in custody. The judge revealed that there had been 25 misconduct violations attributed to Burham during his incarceration.

An Elaborate Escape

Burham’s escape from the Warren County jail occurred while he was facing kidnapping charges for abducting a Pennsylvania couple. He had allegedly driven them to South Carolina in an attempt to evade a murder investigation in New York. Burham managed to climb from exercise equipment onto a grated metal roof and then descended using a makeshift rope made of bedsheets.

A Nine-Day Manhunt

After his escape, Burham evaded authorities for nine days. Described as a self-taught survivalist with military experience, he was considered extremely dangerous. However, his run came to an end when a couple responded to their barking dog and stumbled upon him. They immediately contacted the police, leading to Burham’s recapture just two hours later.

It is worth noting that Burham’s escape came just a few months before another high-profile incident in southeastern Pennsylvania, where a murderer managed to elude law enforcement for nearly two weeks.

Link to a New York Murder Case

District Attorney Jason Schmidt from Chautauqua County, New York, has identified Burham as a prime suspect in a murder and arson case. The incident took place on May 11 and involved the killing of Kala Hodgkin, 34, and a subsequent arson in Jamestown, New York. While Pennsylvania handled the initial prosecution, New York officials continue to investigate the murder and arson.