Fugitive, accused cop killer, caught at abandoned airport
Tannersville, PA — A seven-week manhunt in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania came to an end early Thursday evening (Oct. 30) with the capture of survivalist Eric Frein, who is accused of killing a state trooper and wounding another in September.
His arrest – which ended one of the largest manhunts in Pennsylvania history – was confirmed by a state police spokeswoman. She declined further comment.
Frein – a self-trained sniper and survivalist – was not captured in the woods he knew so well, but at an airport hangar at an abandoned airport between Henryville and Tannersville, roughly four miles from where he was last seen earlier this week. He was taken into custody without incident.
A U.S. Marshal's Service special operations team tracked Frein to the abandoned airport while it was in the process of clearing the area.
Frein, 31, has been charged with ambushing state troopers Bryon Dickson and Alex Douglass with a sniper rifle outside their Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12, then disappearing into forests he had known since childhood. Dickson, 38, was killed and Douglass seriously wounded.
Police suspected that Frein had prepared meticulously for a life as a fugitive, saying he appeared to have stockpiled food and supplies. Police think he had planned the shooting years in advance, though it was unlikely he targeted Dickson and Douglass specifically.
The searchers, led by 200 Pennsylvania troopers, spotted Frein a number of times, only to have him slip away. They were reluctant to give chase for fear of booby traps or ambush by the expert marksman.
They discovered signs of his movement throughout the woods, including a discarded rifle and empty cigarette packs. On multiple occasions, Frein seemed to be probing the edge of the police perimeter looking for a way to escape.
The manhunt had disrupted life in the Pocono Mountains region, threatening to prevent Halloween trick-or-treating in some towns and prompting authorities to temporarily ban hunters and others from parts of two counties.