Manhunt Questions Surface Following Eric Frein Trial on Monday

MILFORD -- It was a brief day in court Monday in the trial of Eric Frein due to the observance of Passover.

There was only two and a half hours of testimony from investigators in Pike County Court. It included the face of the weeks-long manhunt: Pennsylvania State Police Major George Bivens who described the magnitude of the search for Frein.

His testimony was followed by U.S. Marshals who captured Frein.

Boxes of evidence were brought into court Monday morning, including handwritten notes that were found in garbage bags near a campsite in Monroe County.

A trooper in the forensics unit testified those notes included an account of the attack on the Blooming Grove barracks and Frein's escape to the Canadensis area.

Major Bivens oversaw the operation to find Corporal Bryon Dickson's killer. He told jurors it was a difficult search because of the rugged terrain and wooded areas within the search area spanning Pike and Monroe Counties.

Bivens says being at the trial phase is what many in law enforcement have been looking forward to for some time.

"I think this is what we talked about all along: getting justice for the Dickson and Douglass families. That's what we're watching play out here. This process will play out over the next couple weeks and no doubt we'll finally get that justice," said Bivens.

"I mean there's a lot of evidence here, an awful lot of evidence. The jury has a lot to sift through and make decisions. By and large, there have been positive comments about Eric and that's what we're looking for," said Frein's attorney Michael Weinstein.

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Frein's attorney is referring to what their client told U.S. Marshals after he was captured at the abandoned Birchwood Pocono Resort near Tannersville the night before Halloween in 2014.

Marshals testified to searching the area and finding Frein unarmed then Frein told them where to find rifles and a pistol so that no kids got their hands on them.

The manhunt for Frein took 48 days and cost more than $11 million, much of that in overtime pay for troopers who seemingly left no stone unturned across Pike and Monroe counties.

Newswatch 16 asked Major Bivens whether the abandoned resort, which was within the 300-plus square mile area where troopers were systematically searching, had been in fact searched before.

"No, that specific location had not been searched prior," the recently demoted Bivens said. "It was one of many areas that remained to be searched and we were systematically hitting each one of those areas over that entire multi-week period."

Bivens declined to talk about how long Frein may have been hiding out at the hangar.

But back when Newswatch 16 interviewed Bivens immediately after the manhunt and capture, he had this to say about searching Birchwood, where Frein was found after 48 days.

"We have searched that area previously probably within the last week or so. Prior to that, we had teams up through there. There's just no way to search and secure an area, so you search it and if he's not there or located you move onto the next area and you keep pushing until ultimately successful," said Bivens on October 31, 2014.

Eric Frein's attorney wouldn't speculate on how long Frein was holed up at the airplane hangar.

Prosecutors said that detail may still come out at trial.

More testimony in the death penalty case is expected to pick back up Tuesday morning and prosecutors say they expect to rest their case sometime next week.

11 comments

  • Mark

    I had called the tip line and told them or three places they may want to search. The first was never mentioned on the news. They said they had been there several times. Then I stated that I didn’t believe he was in the woods and used deception to throw them off the trail. Then I suggested two other places to search, Penn Hills, and The Birch wood. After he was found at the Birch wood I wrote to the state police and the FBI to question them about the rewards offered and did not receive a reply from either. .

  • GoofOnTheRoof (@GoofOnTheRoof)

    Frein obviously had an ax to grind against the Pennsylvania State Police. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have targeted them in the dead of night. What I want to know is why? Back during the manhunt, people were speculating that both of the policemen that were shot were having some sort of illicit sex with one of Frein’s relatives. Did it get hushed up, to protect the officers’ names? Or was it never true to begin with? There’s a lot of unanswered questions that a lot of people have, including me. Motive. What was his motive? What possessed him to do something so dumb?

  • Nan

    Bryan Dickson doesn’t get to observe any holidays any more, including his children’s birthdays! but Frein gets to observe Passover????

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