Captured fugitive Michael Burham heading back to WNY after waiving extradition

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Chautauqua County man who is the suspect in the death of a Jamestown woman is on his way to being extradited back to New York State.

Michael Burham, 34, made an initial appearance Thursday in federal court this afternoon in South Carolina. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina says Burham waived extradition and a preliminary hearing and will be heading back to WNY to face a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Chautauqua County DA Jason Schmidt confirmed to News 4 that Burham is expected back in Western New York as early as Tuesday.

Burham is suspected of kidnapping an elderly couple at gunpoint in northern Pennsylvania and driving them down to South Carolina and letting them go. On Tuesday afternoon, deputies located Burham in Berkeley County, South Carolina, not far from Charleston, but he was able to get away and escape into a forest.

Authorities say hundreds of officers were involved in the search. After getting numerous tips of sightings, Burham was found disheveled in a wooded area Wednesday.

The family of 34-year-old Kala Hodgkin is relieved that Burham is in custody. He is a suspect in the shooting death of Kala earlier this month in Jamestown.

Family of murdered mother in Jamestown demands justice as killer remains at large

“That was a big weight that was lifted off of a lot of people’s shoulders. Now we just hope we can get these kids situated to where they belong and where they need to be,” said Theresa Shaw, Kala’s aunt. “I couldn’t believe he got that far to tell you the truth.”

Police have had arrest warrants for Burham on charges of rape, false imprisonment and arson, among other charges. The Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt calls this case involving Kala Hodgkin a horrific crime, which is still under investigation.

Hodgkin was a mother of three children, one with Michael Burham. They are in the care of their grandmother.

News 4 is also learning more about the evidence in this case. According to the criminal complaint against Burham, police found a note inside Burham’s car in South Carolina that appears it was written by Burham. It says he’s sorry for all the problems he caused his family and that he feels terrible about the children.

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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