Eric Frein surfed Internet while on the run, warrant says

The man accused of ambushing two Pennsylvania state troopers, killing one, used a laptop and surfed the Internet during the weeks-long manhunt that ended with his arrest last week, according to court documents.

Eric Frein, 31, faces a first-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, outside a State Police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pa., on Sept. 12. Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, was critically wounded.

The shooting prompted one of the largest manhunts in Pennsylvania history, with hundreds of law enforcement officials scouring the heavily wooded territory around Frein’s home in Canadensis for weeks. He was arrested near an abandoned airport hangar on Oct. 30, about 33 miles from the shooting scene.

Court documents released in recent days have outlined the investigative steps authorities took during the manhunt; officials apparently found a campsite abandoned by Frein after they traced his cellphone.

The fact that Frein exposed himself to capture by using a cellphone is somewhat surprising, given that officials said he had conducted Internet searches on his home computer in the last two years with queries such as “can police track cellphone” and “how to escape a manhunt.”


It turns out that Frein -- despite being depicted as an expert outdoorsman and survivalist probably isolated in the woods -- was quite connected to the outside world during the manhunt, according to a search warrant obtained by local media Tuesday.

After he was arrested near the abandoned hangar in the Pocono Mountains, officials found a Lenovo laptop. Frein told investigators “he had used the laptop to access the Internet using open Wi-Fi accounts he could find in the area while he was evading authorities,” according to the warrant.

Because most wireless Internet routers’ signals can’t reach farther than a couple of hundred feet at most, Frein probably was quite close to homes or businesses that had unsecured Wi-Fi. (Officials have said they thought Frein was probably acting alone.)

Frein was also found with two thumb drives, a rifle and a handgun, officials say. The warrant seeks access to any searches, chats and other information he might have accumulated on his laptop.

Frein is being held without bail after appearing in court last week.

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