Tucker, the chocolate lab of Ron and Cindy Ecklund, plays with one of his tennis balls on Tuesday. It was Tucker's barking that alerted the couple to Michael Burham and led to Burham's capture on Saturday.

Couple Whose Dog Alerted Them to Burham Receives Reward From Warren County Crime Stoppers

July 18, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – Dogs truly are a man’s best friend.

Ron and Cindy Ecklund were enjoying a quiet afternoon on the porch of their home on Jackson Run Road on Saturday when their chocolate lab mix, Tucker, started barking and running toward the woods.

The Ecklunds followed in their golf cart and discovered escaped fugitive Michael Burham.

They handled the situation calmly, interacted briefly with Burham, then returned to their home and dialed 911.

As a result of their tip, they received a $2,000 reward from the Warren County Crime Stoppers on Tuesday.

Warren County Crime Stoppers President Gary Barnes presents Ron and Cindy Ecklund with a $2,000 reward for the tip that led to the apprehension of Michael Burham. At left is Warren County District Attorney Rob Greene.

“You can’t live in Warren County at that point and not know what he looked like,” Cindy Ecklund said. “Of course, we locked doors and took precautions, but quite honestly we thought he got in a canoe and went to Pittsburgh or something. We just never would have thought that he was back there.”

Tucker, an affectionate dog who loves to play fetch with his tennis balls, barked at the sight of Burham, and the Ecklunds knew that this was different.

“Tucker was actually really aggressively barking at him,” Cindy Ecklund said. “You’ve seen today that he barks at everybody, but this was different. I think he (Burham) was a little afraid of what Tucker might do.”

Ron Ecklund had seen and read all the reports and knew how potentially dangerous Burham could be. Still, he and his wife remained calm.

“I think he was startled because Tucker was barking,” Ron Ecklund said. “I knew he could be armed and dangerous. I actually asked him what he was doing and he said he was camping, and I said ‘OK, have a nice day.’”

That’s when the Ecklunds returned to their home and dialed 911.

Law enforcement arrived quickly, but they were anxious moments for the Ecklunds.

“We wanted to get out of there as soon as possible and that’s what we did,” Cindy Ecklund said. “The 911 call, the people on the phone had to have thought I was nuts. I was pretty adamant. We were definitely afraid. We stood on the porch waiting for help because we didn’t want to go inside because then we wouldn’t know if he was approaching. Those few minutes before someone got here seemed like an eternity. In hindsight, it wasn’t. It was very surreal. It wasn’t what we expected that night.”

It didn’t take long for Burham to be apprehended.

“He was putting on his backpack when he left,” Cindy Ecklund said. “I thought I saw him take a few steps downstream. But he’s not a dumb man, so he made those few steps before he turned around and went the other way. I’m sure he knew that we knew or he wouldn’t have been putting that backpack on and getting ready to go.”

Warren County District Attorney Rob Greene also expressed his thanks to the Ecklunds.

“I can’t thank these guys enough,” Greene said. “I knew the name Ron Ecklund. When I talked to him on the phone he said ‘hey Rob’ like he knew me. I used to hang out with Ron, my cousin did, I knew him from 20 years ago. I got to meet an old friend.”

The Ecklunds said Tucker has received tennis balls (his favorite), treats, and a whole lot of thank yous.

“The community has been very thankful,” Cindy Ecklund said. “We came out the door the other day and there was a balloon and a bag of treats. We just got a package from a gentleman in Kentucky thanking us with some treats for him. Critter Clippers came by yesterday and gave him a spa day so he’ll get all pampered. We’re just extremely grateful.”

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