Jefferson County NY Sept 19 2011 A fugitive Fort Drum soldier who is alleged to have been involved in a recent crime spree from Pulaski to Gouverneur remained on the run Friday, the subject of a statewide and interstate manhunt.
Pfc. Russell C. Marcum, 20, is considered to be armed and dangerous, as well as suicidal, state police said. His last known whereabouts Thursday night was on Route 20 in Richfield Springs, Otsego County.
The soldier, a native of Worfield, Ky., with his hometown listed as Morgantown, W.Va., had a small stash of guns before an arrest Monday by state police, according to an admitted accomplice, Kevin R. Umphred, who was jailed Friday. Pfc. Marcum told Mr. Umphred he knew where he could sell 10 to 15 handguns for $5,000 in West Virginia.
He and his alleged accomplices are assigned to the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, Fort Drum.
Pfc. Marcum, who was wearing camouflage and was armed with a handgun, drove his parents’ 2003 white Chevy Avalanche from Fort Drum. After an all-points bulletin was issued about 8 p.m. Thursday, he led police patrols on a chase in Onondaga, Madison, Oneida, Herkimer and Otsego counties. He crashed the vehicle at Route 20 and Cole Hill Road, Richfield Springs, then fled, running and crawling through cornfields, wooded areas and a swamp, state police said.
“We’re still looking for him,” Oneida Troop D public information officer Jack Keller said from the scene about 9:15 a.m. Friday. “Nothing has changed.”
State police were using canines and a helicopter in the search, Trooper Christine Tucker said. At least 40 state police and officers from other police agencies are involved in the search.
State police confirmed Pfc. Marcum indicated that he was suicidal and that he would force police to shoot him to end his life.
A school district in the search area implemented security measures and canceled after-school activities Friday. Police warned residents to avoid approaching the 6-foot-3-inch, 180-pound man if he is seen, and to call 911 immediately.
During the Labor Day weekend, Mr. Marcum was charged with third-degree burglary in connection with the theft of a $700 plasma TV from a storage locker at U-Lockit, 23315 Route 342. He was sent to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building on $10,000 bail. He was bailed out by his unit about 10 a.m. Thursday and was confined, under supervision, to his barracks room before he escaped, according to police. Trooper Keller said he assaulted a soldier who was escorting him at the post, then drove off in his parents’ Avalanche, apparently the same vehicle he had used in his recent crime, according to Mr. Umphred’s statement to police.
His parents were visiting him at Fort Drum when the incident began Thursday night, Trooper Keller said. He surmised the private’s parents were in town because of his legal difficulties.
“He was quite despondent because of his recent arrest,” Trooper Keller said.
Fort Drum spokeswoman Julie Cupernall said she could not provide any details of how Pfc. Marcum escaped, saying those questions should be directed to state police.
The soldier was a cavalry scout assigned to Fort Drum in January and joined the unit for the final two months of its Afghan deployment.
Mr. Umphred, 21, Fort Drum, was arrested by Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies Friday morning on a charge of second-degree burglary and was taken to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building under $10,000 bail, set by town of Watertown Justice James P. McClusky. He is accused of assisting Pfc. Marcum in a break-in at 1:20 a.m. last Saturday at Yamaha Power Sports, 19310 Route 11, town of Watertown. They drove away after activating a burglar alarm, stealing a pair of racing boots and $130 in cash, according to the Umphred statement, filed in town of Watertown Court.
In his statement, given to state police early Friday, Mr. Umphred revealed he became associated in the crime spree after Pfc. Marcum told him in August he had “a new source of income … stealing stuff.”
He admitted being with Pfc. Marcum when the latter used bolt cutters to open lockers at U-Lockit, on a date before Sept. 5, when Pfc. Marcum was confronted by the property owner, Walter H. VanTassel.
Mr. Umphred also revealed that when his new friend discussed crime with him, he was driven to a side road off Route 11, north of Watertown, and was shown a hiding place next to a rock wall and a utility pole. There in a long silver gun case were an assault rifle and three pistols, one of which had the stamp of a military emblem. He said he was not told where the guns came from.
They took the guns to U-Lockit, where Pfc. Marcum was renting a locker.
Mr. Umphred disclosed more incidents. Early Sunday, they drove to the Pulaski area, where he said Pfc. Marcum initially raided some storage lockers at Brennan’s Beach, failing to find anything to steal. They then entered a Polaris bike and snowmobile shop and took two helmets and $390 in cash. Items were spray-painted in the shop, he said.
Sunday night, they drove in Mr. Umphred’s vehicle to Gouverneur. En route, a Jefferson County sheriff’s patrol halted them, with Pfc. Marcum being cited with speeding at 84 mph in a 55-mph zone. Resuming their drive, they pulled onto County Route 58 and found a used car dealership. Pfc. Marcum and another accomplice entered the building through a window, but quickly exited upon being greeted by a guard dog.
When Mr. Umphred, Pfc. Marcum and the other accomplice returned to their barracks at Fort Drum, a state trooper was waiting to make an arrest in the Sept. 5 incident at U-Lockit.
“I am going to jail, I know it,” Mr. Umphred quoted Pfc. Marcum. “He said this over and over again.”
In the U-Lockit investigation, state police charged Vyncil R. Irving, 20, Fort Drum, with making a false written statement. Mr. Irving is not mentioned in the Umphred statement.
Assisting state police in the search are state park police, state Department of Environmental Conservation police, state forest rangers, Onondaga County sheriff’s helicopter and Oneida and Otsego counties sheriff deputies