adidas headphones Hike from barracks to search scene a wilderness
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PRICE TWP. Eric Matthew Frein could make the roughly 30 mile hike from the scene of a murder to his hometown without ever seeing another person.
The terrain state police believe the suspected killer is hiding in could make him invisible.
“That whole area is pretty remote,” said Gary Alt, a retired state Game Commission officer and wildlife biologist.
Mr. Alt has spent more than a thousand hours in an airplane, flying low over the woods that stretch from Blooming Grove to Price Twp., looking for bear. His experiences working in the Game Commission afford him intricate knowledge of the terrain Mr. Frein likely crossed to escape a manhunt that began in Pike County.
Mr. Frein, 31, of 308 Seneca Lane, Canadensis, is the sole suspect in the Sept. 12 ambush at the Blooming Grove state police barracks that killed Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II, 38, of Dunmore, and severely wounded Trooper Alex T. Douglass, 31, of Olyphant.
He fled the scene and disappeared into the woods. Roughly 1,000 local, state and federal officials have been scouring the woods near his home for three weeks after pinpointing him in Price Twp.
The path he took could have been a dense wilderness that could take him far from hikers, homes and roads, Mr. Alt said. Mr. Alt is not personally involved in the investigation and offered his opinion on Mr. Frein’s possible path using his deep knowledge of the area.
Mr. Frein tried evading a state police roadblock by taking an access road on the eastern edge of state Route 402, 2 miles north of the barracks, state police said. Fearing helicopters, he kept his headlights off and missed the road. After driving his Jeep into a retention pond, he began his escape on foot, state police said.
Mr. Frein headed south to Interstate 84. By this point, the search effort was mobilizing. State troopers were fanning out into the woods across from the barracks, eventually discovering Mr. Frein’s hiding place and four .308 caliber casings. Helicopters were overhead, and residents along the street were startled awake, wondering what had happened.
He came out of the woods after 5 miles and encountered another challenge: crossing I 84. Mr. Alt said it is possible to do so without being seen. After the shooting, state police were seen investigating alongside the highway between the Blooming Grove and Lord’s Valley exits.
There are several bridges on I 84 and large tunnels run underneath the highway. State police said Wednesday they believe he went under the road.
His next road to cross was Route 402, and Mr. Alt believes Mr. Frein would likely have chosen to hike south between state Route 390 and Route 402. If Mr. Frein stayed east of Route 402, he would eventually run into residential areas. Staying between the two highways and east of the Promised Land State Park would give him a clear shot south to Price Twp. with a good chance to remain completely out of sight, Mr. Alt said.
“That’s the wildest country,” Mr. Alt said.
The manhunt shifted south after the cell phone call on Sept. 18, and police say they have pressed him hard with search teams scouring the terrain. Police said Wednesday that Mr. Frein used a rocky outcropping pockmarked with small caves to shelter and stay out of sight, adding that they have found remnants of small campfires on the 30 foot tall rock.
Mr. Alt said such outcroppings litter the region and offer protection from rain and prying eyes.
State police continued their patrols Thursday in the roughly 5 square mile search zone. Many are keeping close contact with residents to discover new hints at Mr. Frein’s possible movements. Again, police presence seemed to concentrate around Snow Hill Road and in the woods to the south.
Mr. Alt said there is a reason why. The brush in that area is dense to the point where it’s extremely difficult to see 3 feet ahead of you, let alone 75 or 100 yards.