According to court documents, the suspect in a deadly ambush on two state troopers sent a chilling final text message to a friend less than five hours before he allegedly opened fire outside their barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.
The Times-Tribune reports, suspected gunman Eric Matthew Frein texted a friend, Justin Smith, “all is good” just hours before police say he ambushed two troopers outside the Blooming Grove barracks, according to a search warrant affidavit. The text messages were sent in a series that included the notion Frein wanted his friend to say he had been at his house the previous night.
“I stayed at your place last night. I met your aunt. She was showing upstairs to someone.”
The message, received at around 6:15 p.m. on September 12, went on to say Mr. Frein was “heading back to Delaware,” and that he would be back next week. However, police say the message was a lie. In fact, police think those messages were sent just before Frein headed into the woods to hide outside of the police barracks where he would shoot two officers, killing one, just four and a half hours later.
Smith is not a suspect in the case, but he told the police he was Frein’s only friend. The men, who shared a passion for military re-enactments, have known each other since they were teenagers. He said he last saw Mr. Frein, who had a key to his home, on his couch on September 1, when Mr. Smith left to work on a film in Virginia. Smith’s whereabouts were confirmed by the company he was working for. Jeremiah D. Hornbaker, whose company provides props and set dressing for historical films, confirmed Friday that Mr. Smith has been working with him on a Western-type project in Virginia. Mr. Frein worked with Mr. Hornbaker’s company in 2009, on a World War I documentary.
According to the Daily Mail, Frein is still on the loose. Authorities have been looking for Frein — described by authorities as a survivalist with a grudge against law enforcement — in the woods around his parents’ home in Canadensis since the attack. The manhunt entered its fourth week on Saturday. However, troopers believe they are getting closer to flushing Frein from hiding. Authorities said Friday they have found caches of supplies in the rugged, heavily-wooded search area. Supplies found include tuna fish, ramen noodles, and other food, along with clothing and 90 rounds of ammunition from a campsite where police previously said they found two pipe bombs, according to investigators.
Police also found soiled diapers in the wooded area outside of the police barracks. Authorities believe the diapers could have belonged to Frein. Police say DNA testing on the diapers is currently inconclusive on whether they belonged to Frein or not. Police say he may have used the diapers as a way to stay in one spot longer without having to leave to relieve himself.
The Daily Mail notes that Pennsylvania state police have been joined by law enforcement officials from New York and New Jersey state police, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other federal agencies. The FBI alone has 140 to nearly 200 of its staff in the field each day, including agents, analysts, technicians, three full SWAT teams, and members of a hostage rescue team. Many officials believe it is only a matter of time before Frein must leave the woods, as he will run out of supplies as police push him further away from his campsites.