Slain Pennsylvania State Trooper Cpl. Bryon Dickson helped bring his accused murderer, Eric Frein, into custody Thursday night.
After U.S. Marshals surprised the fugitive in a field on a defunct airport in the Pocono Mountains, they waited some 20 minutes to formally handcuff him, according to state police audio obtained exclusively by NBC10 investigative reporter Harry Hairston.
They waited because they wanted Dickson’s shackles to bind the accused shooter’s hands.
“To confirm, the subject will be held,” an unidentified member of law enforcement said over police radio. “Blooming Grove car 2 is in route with Cpl. Dickson’s handcuffs. He’ll be there in approximately 20 minutes so we’ll stand by until that takes place. ”
After the 38-year-old trooper was ambushed Sept. 12 outside his barracks, state police say the cuffs were kept at all times in the possession of an on-duty member at the barracks.
A sergeant from the Blooming Grove barracks, the same location where the shooting took place, drove Dickinson's handcuffs — in the slain trooper's cruiser — the 40 miles south to Frein’s hiding place at the Birchwood-Pocono Airpark in Tannersville. He then slapped the cuffs on Frein.
“Suspect's in custody, handcuffed,” the man said over the radio.
A short time later, Frein, an experienced survivalist who allegedly planned the ambush over a long period of time, was driven in Dickson's cruiser to the Blooming Grove barracks for questioning.
“One package in the back,” a man squawked as the caravan of state police vehicles wove through northeastern Pennsylvania on their way to the barracks.
When he arrived, a large contingent of heavily-armed troopers stood watch as he was led into the barracks, his hands behind his head. The arrest ending a $10-plus million manhunt and closing a chapter on the high-stakes investigation.
Frein is charged with first degree murder in Dickson’s death, attempted murder in the shooting of Trooper Alex Douglass, and related weapons offenses. He is being held without bail under maximum security at the Pike County Correctional Facility following his arraignment Friday.
The suspect has spoken to investigators, but officials declined to discuss what was talked about. Troopers are in the process of executing search warrants and collect additional evidence in the case. A knife and the hunting rifle authorities believe were used in the trooper attack were recovered at the airport, state police confirmed Thursday night.
The Pike County district attorney plans to seek the death penalty in the case.