'It looked like he was packing,' police say of missing engineer in carjacking case
The disappearance of a nuclear engineer wanted on vehicular hijacking charges in DuPage County is being treated as a missing-person case, police said Friday.
Coal City Police Chief Tom Best confirmed blood was found at the home of Michael Buhrman but said investigators believe it could have come from the carjacking suspect cutting his own GPS monitoring device off his leg.
"If you cut the cuff off your leg and cut your leg, you're going to have some blood," Best said. "Yes, the back door was open, and the house was somewhat in disarray. To me, it kind of looked like he was packing."
Buhrman, 32, is accused of hijacking a woman's 2000 Pontiac Grand Am at gunpoint in May. Prosecutors said he approached her outside a department store in Woodridge while wearing a Halloween mask, then took off in her car.
A judge put Buhrman on home confinement and GPS monitoring in July after prosecutors warned that the former reactor operator at Dresden Nuclear Power Plant in Morris, Ill., was plotting to flee the country.
On Sept. 28, Best said, officers assisted by a K-9 from the Illinois State Police searched in and around Buhrman's downstate home for about three hours after the suspect's GPS monitor sent an alert that it had been tampered with. Best said Buhrman's girlfriend and attorney also reported him missing.
Police found Buhrman's monitoring anklet on the floor with a small amount of blood, according to Best.
"It obviously was cut off," he said. "It looked like it had been sliced."
Earlier this week, Buhrman's defense attorney, Richard Blass, said he worried that foul play factored into his client's disappearance because of blood and other evidence found at his home.
Buhrman, who faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted, went missing about three months after a woman he knew told authorities he was planning to flee to Chile in a private jet and had access to offshore bank accounts and $100,000 in gold.
Buhrman earned a six-figure salary working at Dresden before his arrest and told investigators he was merely "thrill-seeking" when he committed the carjacking, authorities said.
Prosecutors have declined to comment on Buhrman's disappearance. Best said Coal City police are working with law enforcement in Woodridge and DuPage County to locate him.
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