Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Hunt for Eric Frein ... Still On

The New Normal Is Beginning to Get Old

     We’re approaching October 31 which will mean Eric Frein allegedly ambushed two Pennsylvania State Troopers six weeks ago, killing one and severely wounding the other. If he is not apprehended in the next forty-eight hours, the law enforcement agencies who continue to search for him will enter their seventh week.
     There are fewer leaves on the trees. We’ve had some cold snaps and some rainy days and nights. This coming Saturday there is a chance of snow showers and considerably reduced temperatures. There are also fewer LEOs searching the woods, which may not be a bad thing. Frein grew up in our corner of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and knows the rocky terrain and thick woods well.
     This is strictly conjecture, but I wonder if having so many law enforcement officers from a number of different agencies means they must gather and plan … which gives him plenty of time to slip away. State police, FBI, ATF, canine units from at least two states and I heard from one source Homeland Security is here as well. 
     We haven’t had a briefing from the PSP for well over a week. The days seem to pass in much the same way. Each morning everyone hopes and prays that today Frein will be caught and our community can go back to the old normal. Each night as the sun sets there is a sense that nothing will be accomplished overnight, though of course we can’t know that.
     Barrett Township, which has been the “hot zone,” cancelled their annual Halloween Parade. That was sad for families and children; it’s very much a delightful small town event that everyone in that area looks forward to. It was heartwarming to read of the efforts of some members of the community who replaced it with a pretty nifty substitute, a “Trunk or Treat” in the parking lot of Monsignor McHugh School where families could gather, children could admire each other’s costumes and treats were plentiful.
     Last Saturday night I went with friends to the Evergreen Community School in Cresco to see a production of Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant but gory musical play, Sweeney Todd, performed by a local group, Theatrical Gems. We were headed for “the hot spot” and it was the first time I’d been in that part of the county since all this started, and it did feel a little strange. We saw no law enforcement vehicles either driving up to the school or coming back to the southern part of the county. But where we were driving was in everyone’s mind, and a comment about “Frein country” was made. We want him gone. He’s in  everyone’s mind.
     It seems there are fewer helicopters in evidence, but we have a new piece of technology, a weather balloon lent by the state of Ohio which can be used the same way, tracking from above with a camera that apparently can show much detail of the terrain below. Of course, it can’t be deployed in high winds.
     We are told the PSP and the governor remain resolute and we are still told the search will continue until Frein is apprehended. Yesterday there was a “sighting” of a person in the woods who might have been Frein. The frustration with the sightings is that no one has really been close enough to any of these people … or to Frein, if it is him … to make a positive identification. As frustrated as the residents are, the law enforcement personnel have to be many times moreso. They want him gone as much as we do. They want to find him and capture him.
     Speculation abounds. Some Facebook pages are filled with posts about different theories. I avoid reading those; it is, after all, sheer speculation. The fact that the LEOs are still here indicates to me it is strongly believed by those in authority that Frein has not left the area. Since it's most likely that is the case, it’s good they are here. Most residents feel much safer with them on hand. Support for the LEOs continues to be strong.
     I write books about people whose lives are filled with love and music, and who deal with challenges with great courage. Eric Frein remains an enigma to me, and I believe to most people. Nothing he has done makes any sense to most people who live here. It’s hard also to imagine what effect this has had and continues to have on people who love him. I hope he is caught and interrogated. We’d like to hear from him. We’d like to be able to get him out of our heads.
     I hope he surrenders, but I doubt that is likely. There are several endgame scenarios and most of them are grim.

Pocono Raceway Photo