By Joe McDonald
MOUNTAINHOME Pa. (Reuters) - The survivalist charged with murdering a Pennsylvania trooper and wounding another was spotted near his old high school carrying a rifle and with mud smeared on his face, police said on Saturday, five weeks after a manhunt for the suspect began.
Eric Frein, 31, who is on the FBI's Most Wanted list, was spotted by a woman in a "surprise encounter" while she was taking a walk, said Lieutenant Colonel George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police.
The woman said she came as close as 15 or 20 feet away from a man who police believe was Frein as he was standing on the side of the road at about 9 p.m. on Friday.
Even though it was dark, she apparently had a good look at the man, Bivens said, adding that she provided enough detail to make authorities confident that it was the suspect.
Frein is wanted in the Sept. 12 sniper attack that killed Corporal Bryon Dickson and wounded Trooper Alex Douglass outside a state police barracks in Blooming Grove.
The latest reported sighting of Frein, a former member of the rifle team at Pocono Mountain East High School in Paradise Township, was about five or six miles from the area where police had concentrated their patrols.
The search has focused on the thick woods around the house in Canadensis, about 130 miles north of Philadelphia, where Frein lived with his parents until a few weeks before the ambush on the troopers.
At a press conference attended by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, Bivens was asked if police have found a motive for the attack.
"We know he had a dislike of law enforcement for a long time, and we found documents that support that," Bivens said.
Bivens said state police have notified school officials of the sighting and said troopers have a "strong presence" in the area.
(Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by James Dalgleish)