Search for escaped killers in New York town comes up empty – Fox News

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June 9, 2015: Law enforcement officers search for escaped prisoners near Essex, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A law enforcement sweep of a small upstate New York town Tuesday turned up no sign of a pair of convicted murderers who escaped from a maximum-security prison over the weekend, though authorities said leads continued to be generated and there would be an increased police presence in the area.

The search for David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48, had focused on Willsboro, a town of approximately 2,000 people in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains close to Lake Champlain, after residents reported seeing a couple of men walking on a road late Monday during a driving rainstorm.

Searchers walked shoulder-to-shoulder, wearing bulletproof vests and carrying sidearms as they went through hilly woods, fields and swamps, checking every home, garage, shed and outbuilding, then yelling, “Clear!” when there were no signs of the inmates.

By early evening, it appeared the sweep had come up empty, and there was no confirmation from police that the escaped convicts had been there. New York State Police issued a statement Tuesday saying that more than 400 corrections and other law enforcement officers were in the area and planned to go door to door, checking homes and seasonal camps.

Sweat and Matt cut through a steel wall of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, broke through bricks and crawled through a steam pipe before emerging through a manhole outside the prison grounds.

They were discovered missing early Saturday after stuffing their beds with clothes to fool guards on their rounds and leaving behind a taunting note: “Have a nice day.”

There was speculation that the inmates had arranged for someone to pick them up outside the prison and were long gone from the area, even Canada or as far as Mexico. Dannemora is located approximately 20 miles from the Canadian border.

The escape from the 3,000-inmate state prison has raised suspicions the men had help on the inside. The New York Post reported Tuesday that Joyce Mitchell, a 51-year-old prison work supervisor, was being interviewed by investigators and “being cooperative.”

“They haven’t charged her because they want to keep her talking,” a source told the paper. “She hasn’t asked for a lawyer.”

Sources told the Post that authorities believe Mitchell was supposed to provide the suspects with a car to help make their escape, but later backed out after suffering a possible panic attack.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Alice Hyde Medical Center, a hospital in Malone, N.Y., told Fox News that Mitchell had been treated for an undisclosed ailment at the hospital in the days since the escape and had been released. Megan Avery would not say if Mitchell was admitted to the hospital or just treated in the ER. She also would not comment on how long she was treated.

In addition to Mitchell, investigators have been questioning prison workers and outside contractors to try to find out who may have supplied the power tools. Contractors have been doing extensive renovations at the 170-year-old prison, a hulking, fortress-like structure that looms over Dannemora’s main street.

A $100,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the men’s capture.

Sweat was convicted in the 2002 killing of a sheriff’s deputy and was doing life without parole. Matt was serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and dismembering his boss in 1997.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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