Police in Pennsylvania reported on Saturday that there has been a credible, detailed sighting of the accused killer of a state trooper. The suspect, who has been on the run for five weeks, was spotted in a wooded area, and was described as dressed in black and carrying a rifle with his face covered in mud.
Pennsylvania police believe the woman’s account of seeing suspect Eric Frein to be highly credible, as it occurred in close proximity to the survivalist’s high school, Pocono Mountain East High School. The woman, who was out for a walk, spotted Frein just off of the road on which she was walking shortly after 9:00 p.m. on Friday night. As they were only 15 to 20 feet apart, she was able to give a highly detailed description of the man to police.
Due to the sighting of Frein in the area, all school activities were canceled on Sunday as the search became focused on the surrounding area. A forensics team from the Pa. police was seen performing a search of an empty house in Pocono Township near the school.
Pocono Mountain School District officials announced that all schools in the district will be open on Monday, but heightened security will be in effect. Among the measures that will be taken is having more police and security officers on campus.
The sighting gives new life to the five-week-long search for Frein. During a news conference held to brief the media on Saturday afternoon, Lt. Col. George Bivens said, “We’re still searching.” Blood discovered in two residences is in the process of being tested for a possible link to the suspect.
The search, which has involved hundreds of Pennsylvania state police, has centered on dense woods in the town of Canadensis, located in a rural area of northeast Pa. where the suspect’s parents still reside. Bivens believes that the new sighting, which occurred approximately six miles south of the previous search area, indicates that the suspect is no longer hiding in that area, leading to an expansion of the search area to include the townships of Pocono and Paradise.
Frein is believed to be responsible for the Sept. 12 ambush shooting of two Pa. troopers at a Pike County police barracks. Cpl. Bryon Dickson was killed in the attack and Trooper Alex Douglass, who was released from the hospital on Thursday, was gravely injured. He will now continue his recovery in a rehab facility. According to Bivens, Douglass is “in good spirits and doing well.”
The search for Frein has yielded documents which indicate that he held a long-standing resentment for government and law enforcement. In addition to the documents and a journal containing a detailed account of the ambush shooting, police have found food, ammunition, a rifle, clothes and pipe bombs in the woods.
The search has proven difficult due to the fact that Frein describes himself as a survivalist, trained to be able to sustain himself in the wild for long periods of time. In addition, Frein is a highly-skilled marksman.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett also attended the news conference and reassured the public that the search to apprehend Frein will continue. He pledged that “nobody’s going to stop until” the suspect is found and taken into custody.
By Jennifer Pfalz