Hours after murder suspect Michael Burham escaped a Pennsylvania jail near the New York state line, a couple in Western New York reported coming home to find their dog dead and some male clothing stolen out of their bedroom.
"It's not a coincidence," Lauraine Peterson, the burglary victim, told Fox News Digital Monday.
That is because she believes Burham has been in her area before. In May, after he allegedly gunned down Kala Hodgkin in Jamestown, New York, Peterson and her boyfriend Harold Lobb noticed a suspicious light coming from their neighbor's home when they knew the owner was out of town, she said.
Police arrived at the time to find broken windows, but whoever was inside had fled after charging a cellphone, Peterson said.
Police returned Friday, about 12 hours after Burham escaped the Warren County Jail by climbing down a rope made of bedsheets, prompting an interstate manhunt. He was being held on kidnapping and related charges and is also suspected of rape and murder in New York.
"Our clothes are missing, and our dog is killed," said Peterson, who is a nurse. Food was also missing from the freezer, she said, but the couple's firearms were securely locked in their safe.
Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said during a Monday news briefing that police had investigated multiple burglaries in Warren County and neighboring areas, including across the state line in New York, but had found no "direct" connection to Burham's movements. Jamestown, New York, is about 20 miles from the jail.
Peterson said the missing clothes were a blue, hooded sweatshirt with her boyfriend's business name on the left upper chest, "Lobbs Automotive," and a car logo printed across the back, as well as a pair of dark gray sweatpants.
Michael Burham mug shot side-by-side. (Jamestown Police Department)
Police said Friday that Burham had previously last been seen wearing a denim jacket over his orange-striped jail jumpsuit and orange "Crocs-style" shoes.
Peterson and Lobb took in a rescue dog two years ago, she said. The pup weighed only 2.5 pounds and could barely walk. They nursed her back to health and named her "Sweetpea," and the grateful canine had grown to be very protective of their home, barking at bears, bobcats and other wildlife that wandered near the house, Peterson said.
"She really was blossoming into quite the little personality," Peterson said. "I'm sure the dog went after him."
MANHUNT FOR ESCAPED PENNSYLVANIA JAIL INMATE, MURDER SUSPECT CONTINUES
Lobb left for work around 7:30 a.m. Friday, she said, and she went out to breakfast with friends an hour later. Then around 11 a.m., a passing driver knocked on their door, but they were not home. He then tried Lobb's daughter in the detached apartment and said he had found the dog dead on the side of the road, according to Peterson.
"If my dog was on him, she'd have chased him across the road," Peterson said. "I don't know if she got hit by a car, or did her throw her?"
Pennsylvania State Police believe Burham is still in the area and are asking anyone with information on his whereabouts to call 814-728-3600 or 911.
Escaped murder suspect Michael Burham's tattoos on his left forearm, left, and right bicep. (Jamestown Police Department)
A combined reward for information from the U.S. Marshals Service and Warren County Crime Stoppers is $9,500.
Burham is described as a "self-taught survivalist with military training." Police said he should be considered armed and dangerous.
The surrounding area is very rural and abuts the Allegheny State Park in Pennsylvania.
"If you have the survival skills, there's a lot of opportunity to evade police," said Matt Mangino, a former Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, district attorney. "I think its inevitable that police are going to find him – it just depends how long it's going to take, and what other damage or victims might come about because of this man."
Fox News' Ashley Papa contributed to this report.