Go Ask Alice: Disturbing the peace no more
I had a strong feeling yesterday, just as I was about to click the publish button and post my column on accused murderer Eric Frein to dozens of our newspaper websites, that he was going to be captured.
“You know if I publish this column, they’re going to catch him today,” I told my husband, thinking to myself it was a chance I was willing to take.
This would be the day Frein’s luck would run out; or the hundreds of law enforcement officers searching for him would get lucky and apprehend the alleged cop killer turned fugitive, who for the past two months has struck fear in the hearts of residents and visitors to this beautiful, peaceful place.
I won’t try to take any credit for Frein’s capture from the tireless and dedicated state and local police officers, or the U.S. marshals that happened upon him during a sweep of an abandoned airfield and placed him under arrest without resistance or further violence, fortunately.
Call it a fervent hope or wish come true rather than a “sixth sense” or clairvoyance, but whatever accounts for, or led to the fortuitous capture of Frein, I join in that collective sigh of relief emanating from Northeastern Pennsylvania and felt 350 miles away here in southeastern Massachusetts.
The catharsis and emotion was palpable during last night’s press conference, which I watched on CNN, glued to my recliner. Both the Pennsylvania governor and State Police commissioner appeared close to tears as they recounted details of the long, difficult manhunt and expressed their gratitude to the state and federal agencies, and the thousands of law enforcement officers from jurisdictions throughout the Northeast who helped in the search and yesterday’s capture.
The story itself seemed like something out of an action thriller movie or “ripped from the headlines” in a television crime drama — and it probably will be soon. Frein’s callous, calculated ambush and attack on Troopers Byron Dickson and Alex Douglass was chilling and disturbing. His escape into the densely wooded Pocono Mountains where he roamed for seven weeks toting a sniper rifle and other weapons was unnerving.
For me, it hit close to home: My family’s vacation home; a cozy cabin nestled in the woods just a few miles and few minutes from where Frein was living and hiding. I remember being pretty shocked when I first heard the news on the “Today” show.
“We drive right by Blooming Grove on the way to the cabin,” I reminded my husband when I told him about the shooting. “We were just there a couple of weeks ago.”
I remember thinking at the time, I hope they catch this guy before we head back down to the cabin to enjoy the spectacular fall foliage in October.
The cabin my father and his good friend built back in 1957 has been my family’s vacation getaway since before I was born. I love the place. It holds most of the happy memories of my childhood summers – swimming and fishing at the lake, walking through the woods, and taking in the fresh air and natural beauty that surrounds you in all four seasons.
And as my dad passed his love of the place down to us, I’m now sharing it with my son, who has his own happy memories and enjoyment of the Poconos – whether it’s snow tubing at the nearby ski resort in the winter, or cooling off in the lake or the local water park in the summertime.
So it made me angry when I heard about Frein and what he’s accused of doing. And it made me extremely uneasy to know he was still on the loose in the woods while we celebrated our anniversary two weeks ago at a Canadensis restaurant minutes from Frein’s family home.
After learning of a Frein sighting near Pocono East High School, my agitation grew. Frein’s alma mater is just about 10 minutes away from our cabin.
Wherever we drove that weekend, I found myself scanning the woods along the edge of the road, not just for the deer feeding at dusk and prone to jump out in front of cars, but for the modern-day Rambo, disturbing the peace in this peaceful place I love.
But today, I’m relieved. Frein is disturbing the peace no more, and kids in Barrett Township can get on their Halloween get-ups and head out trick-or-treating tonight. The rescheduling of the holiday festivities marks an important return to normalcy for Pocono residents put on edge for so many weeks.
It must also be a relief to restaurant and store owners who can now get back to business as usual, cautiously optimistic that tourists spooked off by the fugitive Frein, will return to the region.
For the families of Troopers Dickson and Douglass who have borne the brunt of the tragedy and suffered the greatest loss, Frein’s capture brings some relief and resolution.
And now there will be justice too.
Alice Coyle is the managing editor of GateHouse Media’s Marshfield, Massachusetts, office. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @accoyleWL.