Ralph James "Bucky" Phillips
(born June 19, 1962) is a convicted murderer from upstate New York
caught on September 8, 2006 by the Pennsylvania State Police. He was
wanted for the shooting of three New York State troopers, one of whom
died from his wounds.
On September 7, 2006 he became the 483rd fugitive
listed by the FBI on the Ten Most Wanted list. Prior to his capture,
Phillips attained the dubious distinction of being one of the few
fugitives ever to be simultaneously on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
list, and the Marshal Service's list. He replaced Warren Jeffs on the
FBI's list and was apprehended the day after he was added.
Phillips was raised in Stockton, New York and is a
non status Seneca Indian, meaning he is not recognized as a citizen of
the Seneca Nation of Indians. He has ties to several Indian reservations
in western New York, as well as contacts from his many stints in jails
He spent much of his life on the run, starting as a
child by running away from his abusive father. Bucky was memoralized in
early 2007 in the song titled "Bucky Phillips" by the Patriot Act of
Rockland County, New York.
Prior criminal history
Phillips had a fairly expansive history in the New
York State correctional system prior to his April, 2006 escape from the
Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, New York. He had previously
been convicted on three counts of burglary in the third degree, two
counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and other various crimes.
During a transfer out of Chautauqua County Jail in
Mayville, Phillips left a note threatening "to splatter pig meat all
over Chautauqua County," with pig being derogatory slang for a police
At the time of his escape, he was four days short of
release on a 90-day sentence for violating the terms of his parole. He
had been released in November 2005 after a burglary conviction, but
failed to report to his parole officer, and was reimprisoned on January
6. It was widely reported that Phillips had not been told he only had
four days left until he would be released.
There is some controversy about the events leading to
the revocation of his parole. Family members claim that the ex-husband
of Phillip's ex-girlfriend Kasey Crowe intentionally misinformed
Phillips' parole officer in a ploy to return him to jail. It's believed
that the ex-husband fabricated a story about being threatened by
Phillips. People close to Phillips say that he was not a violent person
and he was looking forward to rebuilding a relationship with his
daughter and grandchildren.
Phillips was being held in Erie County jail for a
parole violation, but escaped April 2, 2006 and was on the run until
September 6, 2006. He escaped by cutting through the corrugated metal
roof of the facility's kitchen using a can opener.
He is believed to have stolen numerous vehicles and
broken into several cabins across Western New York and Northern
Pennsylvania. Police believe that at some point, he used a stolen
vehicle to travel as far away as eastern Tennessee. It is rumored that
he went to Tennessee in mid August and stole license plates to help him
This is highly unlikely, however, since Phillips was
spotted in Niagara County, New York during this time. Forty one guns
were stolen from a gun store in a burglary believed to be connected to
Phillips. Thirty three of these weapons have since been recovered from
the trailer of a man who has since been arrested for aiding and abetting
During the earlier phases of the hunt, Phillips
acquired somewhat of a folk hero status, with local businesses selling
t-shirts saying "Where's Bucky?", "Run, Bucky, Run!", "Don't Shoot, Not
Bucky," or "Got Bucky?" (a parody of Got Milk?), and a local restaurant
selling a "Bucky Burger" (because it was "runny"). With Phillips's local
roots, it was suspected that numerous friends and relatives might have
been giving him shelter.
On June 10, 2006, around 1 a.m., State Trooper Sean
Brown was shot in Veteran, New York (approximately 70 miles south of
Syracuse). He had seen a Ford Mustang which had been reported stolen,
and as he approached the vehicle the driver, who was later identified as
Phillips, shot at him and sped off. The officer was seriously injured
with gunshot wounds to the abdomen.
On June 27, after reports of stolen vehicles and
break-ins, police in Chautauqua County, New York found an abandoned
backpack which contained items tied to Phillips, as well as the .38
caliber handgun he had allegedly used in the June 10 incident.
On August 8, police were minutes behind Phillips
after he was reported on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in Niagara
County, New York; however, he disappeared into the woods. On August 19,
a policeman checking out a motorcycle with invalid tags chased Phillips
into an apartment complex, and then discovered a group of people
believed to have been hiding him for several days, who were arrested.
Phillips, however, escaped once more.
When Phillips learned that the police would be
detaining members of his family for questioning, he reportedly
threatened them, warning them to stay away from his friends and family.
During a stakeout of a related member's house on August 31 in the town
of Pomfret in Chautauqua County, a second shooting took place.
Police believe Phillips pointed a high-powered rifle
and shot two New York State Troopers: Donald Baker Jr., 38, and Joseph
Longobardo, 32 (however the officers never saw their assailant and
evidence has not yet been presented to tie Phillips with this shooting).
Eleven total shots were fired.
Officer Baker was struck in the back and flown to
Hamot Shock Trauma Center in Erie, PA, and Officer Longobardo was struck
in the leg, severing an artery and was flown to Erie County Medical
Center in Buffalo, NY.
On Sunday, September 3, 2006, Officer Longobardo died
following a prior unsuccessful attempt to save his life by amputating
his leg. On November 9, 2006, Baker was released from Hamot and
transferred by NYSP helicopter to Albany Medical Center to continue his
It was shortly after the second shooting that the
reward for information leading to the arrest of Phillips topped
Kasey Crowe, Phillip's ex-girlfriend and mother of
his daughter, was immediately sent back to jail due to her bail being
revoked. She was later released when the witness did not show up at her
Phillips was captured by Pennsylvania State Police at
around 8:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, September 8, 2006.
Phillips was captured according to the AP without gunfire. He was
captured in Warren County, Pennsylvania.
Phillips, who was hiding in a lightly wooded area at
the time of his capture, was spotted by a Pennsylvania police officer
from a distance, who relayed the message to the troopers in the
immediate area. As the police officers methodically surrounded him,
Phillips surrendered, with his hands up in the air.
He was reported having a "defeated look," by New York
State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett. Many of Bucky's supporters
say that he only gave up because he had no weapons to fight back with.
Earlier that day, Phillips had bailed out of a moving car while being
chased by police, leaving his weapons and supplies behind.
Phillips was originally charged by U.S. Marshals with
Interstate Flight to Avoid Prosecution. Federal authorities then waived
their charges so New York State could proceed with Attempted Murder
charges against Phillips as a result of the shooting of Trooper Sean
Numerous other state and federal charges are pending.
Murder and a second Attempted Murder charges could be filed if evidence
can tie Phillips with the shootings of Troopers Baker and Longobardo.
It was announced on September 13 that New York State
Police found a .308 rifle on September 10 in the woods where Phillips
was believed to have spent time before his capture on September 8.
Forensic tests are currently being conducted on the weapon.
On November 29, 2006, Phillips pleaded guilty (or, in
his own words, "guilty as hell") to charges of aggravated murder (for
the shooting of Joseph Longobardo) and attempted aggravated murder (for
the shooting of Donald Baker Jr. and Sean Brown).
On December 19 he was sentenced in Chautauqua County
Court to life without parole for shooting and killing Trooper Longobardo
and 40 years to life for shooting and wounding Trooper Baker.
On December 20 he was sentenced in Chemung County
Court to 40 years to life for shooting and wounding Trooper Brown. He is
serving his sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New
York, the state prison farthest from his family.
Controversial police behavior
The media reported a great deal of local
dissatisfaction with the way law enforcement officials conducted the
manhunt, claiming illegal searches, overtly harassing behavior, and a
general attitude of belligerence on the part of the investigators.
April 2: Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, who has spent 20 of
the past 23 years in state prison, escapes from the Alden Correctional
Facility in Erie County near Buffalo, cutting through the kitchen
ceiling with a can opener.
April - June: During this time, police suspect Phillips is related to
breakins at hunting cabins in Erie, Allegany and Cattaraugus counties.
truck stolen in Allegany County ends up in Ohio where another vehicle is
and authorities suspect Phillips is involved. Phillips is allegedly
residents in the areas around Sinclairville, Stockton, Randolph, Great
and Bradford, PA. Police speculate that Phillips' relatives are staging
to distract them and throw them off his trail.
June 10: State Trooper Sean Brown is shot in the abdomen during a
near Elmira in southern New York. State police say they're looking for
as a "person of interest."
June 15: Police continue scouring the Elmira-Binghamton area, but set up
checkpoints in Pomfret in Chautauqua County, since Phillips has
to the area.
June 20: Phillips is believed to have stolen a Dodge Caravan in the town
Hancock, east of Binghamton.
June 25: Brad Horton is mistaken for Phillips and shot four times and
a New York State trooper. The trooper claimed he was being dragged and
shots because his life was endangered. The case is currently under
review by a
June 26: The Dodge Caravan stolen in Hancock is found in the town of
and police believe Phillips is on the loose in northern Chautauqua
June 29: Police drop a dragnet around Cassadaga.
July: "Bucky Burgers" and T-shirts saying "Where's Bucky?" or "Got Bucky?"
offered for sale in Phillips' native Chautauqua County in western New
manhunt focuses there.
July 8: A firearm found in the town of Charlotte is linked to the June
shooting of Brown.
July 13: State Police double the reward for helping catch Phillips to
Wounded trooper Sean Brown visits Chautauqua County to boost morale.
Foley says the Horton case is still under investigation, but will likely
go to a
July 16: A burglary near Randolph is linked to Phillips. The manhunt is
to Cattaraugus County and a command post is established at Randolph
School. State Police maintain their Fredonia command post.
Late July: Police close their Randolph command post and largely abandon
Cattaraugus County operations.
Aug. 8: A car stolen in Olean is recovered in Niagara County and linked
Phillips. Police abandon Chautauqua County.
Aug. 9: State Police report two confirmed sightings of Phillips and
fresh photo of him looking into the camera from under a camouflage
Police do not say how they obtained the photo. The photo is taken in
County near the Tuscarora Indian Reservation.
Aug. 19: Phillips is spotted in Cassadaga. Police arrest three Cassadaga
residents for helping him. They are Natasha Berg, Timothy Seekings, and
Kelley. Police once again begin concentrating on Chautauqua County. A
follows a motorcycle with no inspection sticker to the apartment, and
is later identified as Phillips. He escaped out a rear window of the
Aug. 24: Three more people, including former girlfriend Kasey Crowe and
Patrina Wright, are accused of harboring Phillips. Wright is charged
endangerment. Her three children, including an infant, are removed from
Aug. 28: State Police call Phillips a suspect in the theft of several
including high-powered rifles, from a Chautauqua County gun shop over
weekend and the theft of car a few miles away.
Aug 30: Pennsylvania State Police find 35 of 41 stolen guns at a
Ludlow, PA, 20 miles south of the New York border.
Aug. 31: Two state troopers are shot sniper-style and critically wounded
Crowe's home in the rural town of Pomfret in Chautauqua County. They are
helicoptered out by state police aviation. Todd Nelson of Ludlow, Pa.,
accused of harboring Phillips for 11 days. Wright's children are
returned to her
Sept. 1: State Police say Phillips is the prime suspect in the shootings.
Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett orders another 75 troopers to help
manhunt. The reward for his arrest jumps to $225,000.
Sept. 3: Trooper Joseph Longobardo dies at Erie County Medical Center, a
after one of his legs was amputated.
Sept. 4: Police from around western New York join troopers in the
Hunters are told to stay out of the woods.
Sept. 5: Children returning to school in the search area hold recess and
practice indoors while troopers continue checking cars at roadblocks.
Sept. 6: U.S. marshals name Phillips to their "15 Most Wanted" list.
Sept. 7: Phillips is added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.
400 troopers, joined by federal and local police, search for Phillips.
rewards for helping catch Phillips top $400,000.
Sept. 8: After a stolen car is pulled over early in the morning near the
Pennsylvania-New York line, a man believed to be Phillips runs into the
As many as three cars are stolen as the chase leads into Pennsylvania.
Authorities evacuate a golf course near the state line in Russell, Pa.,
shots are fired. Local, county, state and federal officers, some with
search for Phillips. Phillips surrenders to Pennsylvania State Police
p.m., walking out of a field with his hands up.
Sept. 9: Phillips is charged with eight counts, including attempted
murder, first-degree attempted murder and second-degree attempted murder,
Chemung County in connection with the shooting of a state trooper on
that intensified a five-month manhunt. There is not enough evidence to
him with the August 31 shootings. The unlawful flight to avoid
charge was waived at the request of United States Attorney Terrance
clears the way for the more serious state charges.
Sept. 10: State troopers recover a .308 rifle in the woods near the
Phillips was captured.
Sept. 19: Daniel De Federicis, president of the Police Benevolent
the New York State Troopers, releases a letter claiming that the manhunt
"poorly planned, poorly organized, poorly led and poorly executed" and
an independent investigation of the search.
Nov. 18: Phillips claims that guards at the Chemung County Jail are
him due to his notoriety. In a six page letter to the Buffalo News, he
many abuses, including provoking him with obscenities, leaving the TV on
night so he can't sleep, watching him shower, and denying him routine
privileges. Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss denies the claims.
that Phillips is a model prisoner, but is under surveillance at all
because he is considered an escape risk.
Nov. 29: Phillips pleads guilty in Chemung County Court to attempted
regarding the June shooting of Trooper Brown. He then pleaded guilty
Chautauqua County Court to the murder and attempted murder of Troopers
Longobardo and Baker, respectively.
Nov. 30: Phillips pleads "guilty as hell" in Erie County court to claims
broke out of the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, NY.
Dec. 19: Phillips is sentenced to life imprisonment in Chautauqua County
for the murder and attempted murder of Troopers Longobardo and Baker,
respectively. He is then sentenced to 25 years to life in Erie County
the escape charges.
Former fugitive 'Bucky'
September 10, 2006
HORSEHEADS, N.Y. A former fugitive
suspected of fatally shooting a state trooper and wounding two others
made his first court appearances Saturday, hours after surrendering in a
field over the Pennsylvania state line following a five-month manhunt.
Captured fugitive Ralph "Bucky" Phillips was arraigned on eight counts
in Chemung County Court this afternoon in connection with the June 10
shooting of state Trooper Sean M. Brown, who was shot in the town of
Veteran after he and his partner approached a stopped car in the early
morning hours of June 10.
Phillips, 44, was charged with:
Attempted aggravated murder.
First-degree attempted murder.
Second-degree attempted murder.
possession of a weapon.
Two counts of third-degree
criminal possession of a weapon.
Third-degee criminal possession
of stolen property.
Fourth-degree possession of
Phillips was first brought to
Chemung County shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday where he was escorted into
the New York State Police barracks in Horseheads after being a 4-minute
arraignment earlier in federal court in Buffalo on a charge of unlawful
flight to avoid prosecution. The judge agreed to turn Phillips over to
state police to face the charge of attempted murder in Chemung County,
where he appeared for about 15 minutes in county court.
New York's longest manhunt ended
Friday after two stolen cars, one dog with a keen sense of smell, a
sharp-eyed sheriff's deputy and the roar of helicopter propellers helped
flush out one of the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" fugitives.
Shortly after 8 p.m. ET Friday,
Phillips emerged from a lightly wooded field where, with his hands in
the air, he peacefully surrendered to authorities as SWAT teams
Not a shot was fired by Phillips
on Friday as police closed in on the jail escapee, finally capturing him
in an area along Cable Hollow Road in Warren County, Pa., near the New
The capture came at nightfall,
when state police Superintendent Wayne Bennett had been concerned the
search would become more dangerous and there was a chance Phillips could
slip through the square-mile perimeter that had formed just south of the
New York border.
"It's like closing your hand. It
gets smaller and smaller," Bennett said of the search area. "You have to
pull it together. You have to be on the same page, and we were all on
the same page today."
Bennett said Phillips knew it was
over when police moved in.
"There was a helicopter hovering
over his head and a SWAT team down the woods line. He knew the game was
up," he said. "As far as the state police are concerned, you can't shoot
one of ours. We will track you down. We will hunt you down. Sooner or
later, they take a last look over their shoulder and the game is up. You
can't be shooting at the people who protect society."
Phillips was unarmed and
uninjured when he was taken into custody by the Pennsylvania State
Police after a Warren County sheriff's deputy with binoculars spotted
The news that Phillips had been
brought in alive, although he had previously threatened "suicide by cop,"
was of importance to slain Trooper Joseph Longobardo's father, Bennett
"It closes a certain chapter in
the book for the (Longobardo) family and for us," Bennett said.
The capture closes one part of
the investigation for police, but there is much more to do to prepare to
take Phillips to trial.
"(Phillips) was the person who
would make the choice of how this would end. Now this miserable creature
will suffer for the rest of his life in the New York prison system," he
Police gave the following account
of Friday's events:
At 1:55 a.m., two Warren County
sheriff's deputies, armed with the knowledge that Phillips likes to
travel at night in stolen cars, attempted to pull over a stolen vehicle.
Deputies Dan Michaels and Kimio
Nelson received a report about a silver Honda stolen from a home and
soon saw the car speeding north, Warren County Sheriff Larry Kopko told
the Times Observer of Warren, Pa., on Friday.
As they gave chase, the driver
failed to make a sharp turn, lost control and went into trees, jumped
from the car and ran into the woods, Kopko said.
Twenty-five minutes later,
another car was stolen from the Warren area and the chase was on again
when police began to follow the car to the New York-Pennsylvania border.
Near Frewsburg, N.Y., police said,
Phillips dove out of the stolen vehicle as it was moving and fled into
At around 9:10 a.m., two New York
state troopers with a dog approached Phillips from behind, and Phillips
turned with a pistol in his left hand. Police said one of the troopers
fired several shots. Phillips did not return fire and ran. No blood was
found at the scene.
About 3 p.m., a civilian and an
officer spotted Phillips. Police said he was spotted running and
crawling, what Bennett called "acts of desperation."
Police then formed a perimeter
along a wooded area about a half-mile from the New York-Pennsylvania
border and stationed officers along all the roads leading in and out of
Police recovered both stolen
vehicles, and news reports said identifying articles were discovered
that linked the vehicles to Phillips, including a U.S. Marshals wanted
poster and a camouflage hat that Phillips was wearing in the photograph
taken of the fugitive on Aug. 8 on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation.
Phillips was escorted by several
U.S. Marshals vehicles and a helicopter immediately following his
surrender. He was put in leg irons, waist chains and handcuffs, and the
look of defeat was on his face as he was taken into custody, Bennett
"I told you he had to keep
looking over his shoulder and we'd be there, and tonight we were,"