Searching for Answers in Costly Frein Manhunt

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BLOOMING GROVE TOWNSHIP -- Eric Frein, the man who ambushed Pennsylvania state troopers killing one and wounding another is sitting on death row in western PA.

A jury convicted him nearly two months ago in Pike County.

That is where the manhunt and investigation into the deadly shooting at the state police barracks started in September 2014.

Now that the trial is over, state lawmakers came to the Poconos to find out what went right and what went wrong in the costly search for Frein.

Lawmakers and troopers insist the investigation and manhunt was a success since no one else was killed and Frein was brought to justice.

From the moment of the attack on the Blooming Grove State Police barracks in 2014 to the capture of the now-convicted cop killer Eric Frein, Pennsylvania State Police were in charge of the entire operation and admitted it was something they'd never faced before and hope to never face again.

"The community was afraid, kids didn`t go outside and play. School was canceled completely," said Major George Bivens.

Major Bivens was the face of the manhunt for Frein that lasted 48 days, covered territory from Pike to Monroe County and ended with U.S. Marshals capture of the FBI's Most Wanted fugitive.

Bivens testified at a state senate hearing at the very Pike County Training Center used as headquarters for law enforcement to hunt down Frein.

"We spent about more than $4 million in overtime in that two-week period," said Bivens of the peak of the manhunt.

Roughly $12 million was spent overall, most of it overtime for troopers by the thousands. Bivens also explained why state police weren't the ones to find Frein's jeep near the Blooming Grove barracks saying because at the time, he felt it would be a waste to look for openings in the dense forest. A neighbor ended up discovering the big break in the case two days later.

"Ultimately where the Jeep was found from certain angles it`s very evident," said Major Bivens. "Someone might say that`s easy to see, and it is."

Senator Lisa Baker, R 23rd District, called for the hearing which had to wait until after the trial and questioned if troopers looked for Frein at the abandoned airplane hangar where he was eventually captured.

"We were in that area, we just hadn`t searched that building," said Major Bivens. "I'm not aware that we searched any buildings adjacent to that. We didn`t have legal authority to go into those buildings."

The big question there which wasn't asked: Troopers searched Buck Hill Falls Inn and Penn Hills extensively during the manhunt. Why not the abandoned Birchwood Resort?

Lawmakers also heard from Pike County officials, the district attorney, school and business leaders as well.


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