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Search for military fugitive shifts to Western New York
DRYDEN, N.Y. (WKTV) - Authorities now believe a fugitive soldier that has been on the run since late Thursday night has made his way out of the Otsego County area where authorities had been searching for the past 24 hours and is now likely in the Town of Dryden in Tompkins County.
Authorities say they learned late Friday night that a car was stolen from West Winfield where a command post had been set up. The car was equipped with OnStar and through the use of GPS technology, authorities say they tracked the car to the Dryden area where it was found abandoned.
Now dozens of police agencies are doing exactly what they were doing in Richfield and the West Winfield area throughout Thursday and Friday - stopping vehicles, talking to motorists and checking the contents of what's inside. They're also canvassing the area with both manpower and K-9 Units as the search for the soldier continues.
The New York State Police had been stopping every vehicle along Route 20 in the Town of Richfield since around 10 p.m. Thursday night, asking people if they'd seen anything suspicious.
What they were hoping to find was 20 year old Russell Marcum - a Fort Drum soldier who State Police say escaped military custody, led authorities on a high speed chase through four counties, and then fled on foot, telling family members he contacted that he "would not be taken alive."
Representatives with Fort Drum say Marcum is fairly new to the armed forces. He joined the Army in August 2010 and came to Fort Drum in January 2011, and was then deployed to Afghanistan. A member of the 10th Mountain Division First Brigade Combat Team, he returned to Fort Drum in March.
State Police say he faces burglary and grand larceny changes stemming from a Labor Day Weekend break in to self-service storage lockers in Watertown. He was transferred to military custody, where he attacked another soldier and escaped. State Police Captain Francis Coots said Marcum gained access to a car and began a high speed chase that began in Jefferson County, traveled through Madison County and ended in Otsego County.
The pickup truck Marcum was driving crashed into a ditch after hitting spike strips set out by State Police between Sangerfield and Richfield, and Marcum ended up in a field about two miles further down Route 20.
He fled on foot, just out of the reach of an officer that was right behind him. The man trained to survive appears to have done just that since being on the run.
Investigators say Marcum definitely has a cell phone, and may also have a handgun, as well as a bullet proof vest he may be wearing. Trooper Keller said authorities were not sure where the cell phone came from, but that he had contacted several family members, telling them he "would not be taken alive."