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Survivalist Researched Escaping Manhunts Before Fatal Ambush

Rich Schultz
In this Oct. 31, 2014 file photo, Eric Frein is escorted by police into the Pike County Courthouse for his arraignment in Milford, Pa.

An anti-government survivalist charged with ambushing two troopers at a state police barracks did research on how to escape a manhunt more than a year before the deadly attack, according to evidence presented Monday at his murder trial.

Eric Frein's laptop was used to search online for "how to escape a manhunt" and "how are manhunts conducted" in May 2013.

Frein avoided capture for 48 days before U.S. marshals caught him at an abandoned airplane hangar more than 20 miles from the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania, where authorities say he killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson II and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass on Sept. 12, 2014.

The survivalist claimed to police on the night of his arrest that he had planned the sniper attack only a few days earlier, but his internet search history suggests he had been mulling over it for a lot longer. Other searches from May 2013 included "bug out cache" and "tips on placing caches," presumably of food and other supplies.

Frein used the internet while he was on the run, too, performing dozens of searches of his own name, both alone and in conjunction with words like gun, evidence and manhunt. He sought out his wanted poster and did research on Dickson, according to the testimony.

And, prosecutors say, he wrote a letter to his parents.

The letter, read to jurors Monday, was recovered from a computer thumb drive found at the hangar. Addressed to "Mom and Dad," it spoke of revolution and said, "The time seems right for a spark to ignite a fire in the hearts of men."

The author wrote: "I tried my best to do this thing without getting identified, but if you are reading this then I was not successful."

Frein, 33, could face the death penalty if he's convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

Douglass, who was left with debilitating injuries and has endured more than a dozen surgeries since the attack, is expected to take the witness stand against Frein this week.