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Authorities fear man facing DuPage County carjacking charge may have fled country

Updated: January 11, 2013 5:27PM

A missing nuclear plant operator who vanished after being charged with a DuPage County carjacking faces a March 5 trial date even though authorities say there’s evidence he fled the country.

Michael Buhrman, 32, was free on bail when he disappeared last September after purportedly telling a girlfriend he had collected $100,000 in gold bars and planned to secretly travel to Chile to avoid trial, court records show.

A GPS monitor Buhrman had been ordered to wear on his leg while on bail was found sliced open in the bedroom of his house in downstate Coal City, an Illinois State Police investigator testified Thursday in a pre-trial hearing.

His bizarre disappearance came just months after Buhrman was charged with carjacking a woman at gunpoint in west suburban Woodridge. He was captured minutes later still driving the woman’s car and carrying a .45-caliber pistol, authorities said.

At the time of the May 9 carjacking, Buhrman was working as a nuclear engineer at the Dresden Generating Station near Morris. He has since been fired from that job.

Though Buhrman’s attorney has contended the U.S. Navy veteran may have been kidnapped, State Police Sgt. Heather Poerio testified Thursday that a search of his home turned up no evidence he had been a crime victim.

She said his home was “pristine” except for a small amount of blood found near the severed GPS monitor — which likely resulted from the bracelet being cut off his leg.

“I did not feel this was an abduction,” Poerio said.

If Buhrman doesn’t show up in court in March, prosecutors will ask Judge Kathryn Creswell to conduct the trial without him.

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