Ron and Cindy Ecklund were enjoying a Saturday afternoon in their backyard when their dog, a chocolate Labrador mix named Tucker, started barking.
“Usually, if I call him, he comes straight home,” Ron Ecklund described to ABC News. “He wouldn’t, so I said, ‘Cindy, let’s get on the golf cart.'”
They went to their backyard, expecting to find a fisherman or hiker by the creek on their property. Instead, the couple came face-to-face with Michael Burham, who had escaped from a local jail over a week ago.
“Suddenly, this person stands up, and it’s Michael — I recognize him right away,” said Ron Ecklund, noting Burham’s tattoos, which had appeared in recent news reports.
Burham escaped from the Warren County Jail in Pennsylvania on July 6, using a rope made from bed sheets to descend from the prison roof. Over the next eight days, the high-profile fugitive kept the town of Warren in turmoil, with daily press conferences reminding residents not to go near the dangerous fugitive, who police have warned he may be armed.
An aficionado of tennis balls and birds, Tucker generally likes people, though he “knew something was up” when he discovered Burham, according to Cindy Ecklund.
When confronted with the Ecklunds, Burham claimed he “camped out” in the couple’s backyard.
“I thought he was gone. I never thought he was in the backyard,” said Ron Ecklund in an interview with ABC affiliate WJET.
Returning to his home, Ecklund called police at around 3:57 pm Friday, according to Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens. Police eventually tracked Burham down to a nearby street, where he was arrested at gunpoint by officers from the US Marshalls, Customs and Border Protection and NY State Police, according to Bivens.
For their role in the arrest, Crime Stoppers plans to award the couple and their loyal chocolate Labrador mix $2,000 in cash, according to Warren County District Attorney Rob Greene.
Cindy Ecklund said that for his role in the arrest, Tucker – a six-year-old chocolate brown Labrador and Chesapeake Bay retriever – will be rewarded with a steak dinner tomorrow. “He ate very well,” she added.
While the $2,000 could buy more than 13,000 Milk-Bone dog biscuits, Cindy Ecklund said they plan to use their reward to improve their water well or improve their home’s siding if they receive the full reward of more than $20,000.