Jamestown fugitive nearly captured in South Carolina
Michael Burham, the man suspected of killing Kala Hodgkin of Jamestown, was nearly caught in South Carolina on Tuesday.
Eleven separate police agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Marshals, searched an expansive wooded area much of Tuesday afternoon and early evening after a concerned citizen’s tip led police to Burham’s location According to news releases by the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, deputies found the person described by the concerned citizen. The man gave deputies a false name and ran away. Deputies were unable to catch him, but the person dropped a bookbag that contianed items confirming Burham’s identity.
Burham was last seen wearing a gray shirt and blue and white shorts. He is described as a white male with facial hair, 5’09” and approximately 150 pounds. He has brown eyes and dark brown hair. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release saying there were no further updates, but hundreds of law enforcement officers were continuing to search a large wooded area. The area was closed to traffic.
“We are utilizing every available resource to find this fugitive. We have all hands on deck and we will not stop the search.” Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said. “We are asking the public to remain vigilant. If you see anything suspicious, please call 911 or 800-CALLFBI. No tip is too small and could be helpful.”
Burham has been on the run since May 11, when Jamestown police began investigating a homicide on Williams Street, Jamestown. By May 15 arrest warrants had been issued for Burham in relation to a car fire on Fulton Street at the same time Burham was wanted for questioning in the death of Hodgkin. The 34-year-old man also is wanted on charges of first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment in addition to his most recent charges in New York of third-degree arson, fourth-degree criminal mischief, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of second-degree criminal contempt.
On Saturday, more than a week after the Jamestown homicide and fire, Burham allegedly kidnapped a Sheffield couple whose family notified police they were missing when they didn’t attend a soccer game with the rest of their family. The misssing couple were found in South Carolina at 6:30 a.m. Sunday at a cemetery in North Charleston and told police they had been kidnapped at gunpoint.
Documents filed by the Pennsylvania State Police on Sunday state The victims, according to police, were able to identify Burham based on media reports about Burham “as well as conversations they had with Burham while they were being held by him against their will.”
A female victim encountered Burham first and was taken at gunpoint into the residence. Burham then allegedly took a male victim at gunpoint and took both victims to their bedroom.
“Once there,” troopers detail, “Burham obtained clothing belonging to the victims” and then “forced the victims to enter” their vehicle. “The vehicle was then removed from the residence … and they were forced to travel to the North Charleston, S.C. area.”
They told police that Burham told them to exit the vehicle in a cemetery and then drove away in their 2022 Honda CRV.
Troopers here then obtained a search warrant for the victim’s residence and located “one pair of size 11 Rocky boots, brown and camouflage in color” in the garage on top of a toaster oven. “This footwear,” the affidavit states, “was confirmed by the female victim to not belong to anyone at the residence and she believed (the boots) to belong to Michael Burham.”
Troopers conclude in the affidavit that it is “believed Burham was staying on the property or nearby and had been watching the residence … for approximately one week.”
According to the affidavit, a search to the north of the residence resulted in the discovery of a plastic tarp, camouflage clothing and water bottles that did not belong to the victims.
Troopers state in the criminal complaint that Burham’s actions aim to “avoid police apprehension for several other crimes” and filed a total of 26 charges against Burham — two counts each of kidnapping, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, disorderly conduct and single counts of possessing an instrument of crime with intent, theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, burglary, criminal trespass – enter structure, criminal trespass and loitering and prowling at night time.