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Slain Pa. trooper’s widow sues killer’s parents

Tiffany Dickson claims the parents of Eric Matthew Frein were aware of and fostered their son’s disdain for law enforcement that led to her husband’s death

By David Singleton
The Times-Tribune

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — The parents of convicted cop-killer Eric Matthew Frein were aware of and fostered their son’s disdain for law enforcement that led to his slaying of state police Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II outside the Blooming Grove barracks three years ago, the officer’s widow alleges in a lawsuit.

Tiffany Dickson, Dunmore, filed the survival and wrongful death action Thursday in Lackawanna County Court, seeking damages from Frein and his parents, Eugene M. and Deborah Frein of Canadensis.

The lawsuit contends Eugene and Deborah Frein psychologically manipulated their son “into developing a strong dislike for the police and acting on that dislike” in carrying out his Sept. 12, 2014, ambush attack at the barracks.

“The psychological manipulation ... was the direct and proximate cause of the actions taken by” Eric Frein, Tiffany Dickson, who is represented by attorney Marion Munley, maintains in her complaint.

Eric Frein, 34, was living with his parents at their 308 Seneca Lane home when he shot and killed Bryon Dickson and seriously wounded Trooper Alex T. Douglass of Olyphant. He spent the next 48 days evading a massive manhunt in Pike and Monroe counties before his capture outside an abandoned airport hangar in Pocono Twp.

He was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges April 19 and later sentenced to death.

The lawsuit contends Eugene and Deborah Frein supported their son financially and knew he was storing weapons, ammunition and other supplies that he subsequently used in his attack on the barracks and while evading police during the manhunt.

They also understood Eric Frein believed police were too militarized and had an unfavorable view of government, the complaint says.

In particular, Eugene Frein, an Army veteran who passed on his military firearms and demolition explosives skills to his son, exercised “significant influence” over Eric Frein with respect to his views on government, police and the use of firearms, it says.

“Eugene regaled Eric with exaggerated stories about Eugene’s career in the military,” the suit alleges. “Eric attempted to emulate his father but could not measure up.”

Eugene and Deborah Frein were negligent in keeping more than four dozen guns, including the .308-caliber rifle used to kill Bryon Dickson, in their home “in an unsecured manner easily accessible to Eric, whom his parents knew maintained an extreme antipathy for government and the police.”

The parents, who also provided financial and emotional support for Eric Frein’s military simulation hobby, should have known their son was mentally ill or had difficulty separating reality from fantasy, the suit alleges.

Eric Frein had a history of acting in a strange and threatening manner “which would evidence he should not be entrusted with dangerous items such as firearms and materials for building explosive devices,” according to the complaint. His parents knew or should have known he had “violent, terroristic plans.”

Efforts to reach the Freins’ attorney, Joseph B. Mayers of Blue Bell, were unsuccessful Friday.

Tiffany Dickson initially filed a writ of summons against the Freins, putting them on notice that a lawsuit would follow, in August 2016.

Similar actions against the killer and his parents have been filed in Monroe County by Douglass and in Pike County by Nicole Palmer, a civilian dispatcher who tried to assist Bryon Dickson after he was shot.


©2017 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)