Charleston Co. 911 calls released regarding wanted fugitive

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:08 PM EDT|Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 7:29 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County Dispatch has released the 911 calls made regarding a fugitive wanted in multiple states.

Michael Burham, 34, was arrested at approximately 5:17 p.m. Wednesday off Abra Way in Huger, Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said.

Burham is charged with rape and arson out of New York, and Jamestown Police say homicide charges are also pending. He’s wanted for kidnapping an elderly couple out of Pennsylvania. Burham turned up in North Charleston on Sunday night and police were alerted when that couple called 911.

“My husband and I were held hostage all day yesterday and taken from Warren County, Pennsylvania by a murderer who is wanted,” the woman said to 911 dispatchers. “He let us off at a cemetery down the road and he said he’s going to put our car at the Verizon store. We need help. My husband is 90 years old and he can’t walk very much further and this gentleman is the only one who stopped.”

The woman went on to say that Burham took the couple out of their home at gunpoint, took their car and made them ride with him all the way to North Charleston when he let them out.

The search continued for Burham into Monday afternoon with little word on updates until North Charleston Police confirmed an increased police presence in the area of Rivers Avenue.

But by Tuesday, a sighting had been reported in Berkeley County, prompting a large response near Huger and eventually into the Francis Marion National Forest. Hundreds of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies helped in the search for Burham in rural Berkeley and Charleston Counties. Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis told reporters Tuesday afternoon that deputies patrolling the area after a 911 call from Huger reported a possible sighting encountered what he called “a suspicious suspect” on a bicycle on Halfway Creek Road. Burham was able to escape deputies after giving them a false name.

Berkeley County deputies centered their search for the wanted fugitive on the Francis Marion National Forest on Tuesday.

“He is now in the Awendaw-McClellanville area because I just saw him on the highway and I didn’t know it was him until I came home and saw him on the news,” another caller states to 911 dispatchers. “He was just walking down 17. He wasn’t trying to hide or anything.”

“I have not seen anybody, but the curtains have been the same forever and now they’re pushed to the side and the gate is open,” another caller claimed.

A tip at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday placed Burham near Broomstraw Hill Road in Awendaw, where Charleston County deputies spent the overnight hours and most of Wednesday searching for him.

“The guy that y’all are looking for - we see him in our woods please,” that caller states. “Please, hurry hurry. He knocked on my daughter’s window and tried to open up the window and break in my daughter’s room. He was in our yard.”

A tip late Wednesday afternoon of a possible sighting in Berkeley County prompted deputies to shut down Halfway Creek Road at United Drive. It was in that area where he was eventually captured.

Burham appeared in federal court wearing a blue striped jumpsuit and shackles Thursday afternoon in Charleston. The initial hearing was to notify Burham of his rights.

Burham waived his rights to both an identity hearing and a preliminary hearing. He requested to have his detention hearing in the Western District of New York – where his original criminal complaint is from. Burham will be transported back to New York for a detention hearing – the date for that proceeding has not been set yet.