Search for second escaped murderer intensifies in upstate New York – Fox News
The search for the second escaped prisoner has been re-energized after law enforcement officers shot and killed one fugitive Friday afternoon.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers have converged on a wooded area 30 miles from the Clinton Correctional Facility with helicopters and search dogs. Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped from the maximum-security prison in Dannemora about three weeks ago.
“Of course our preference would always be to capture them alive,” New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told a news conference as he announced late Friday the killing hours earlier of Matt.
D’Amico credited a tip from the public, one of more than 2,300 received so far, for crucial information leading to the deadly confrontation in Malone.
D’Amico said Matt was shot by a border patrol agent when he failed to comply with orders in the woods near a cabin where a shot had been fired earlier in the day at a camping trailer. A 20-gauge shotgun was found on Matt, though he didn’t fire it at officers, he said.
“They verbally challenged him, told him to put up his hands. And at that time, he was shot when he didn’t comply,” D’Amico said.
Sweat has not been spotted since he escaped from the prison. However, evidence found a week ago suggests he was with Matt in a cabin that was burglarized about three miles from any paved roadway, the superintendent said.
An intense sweep of the area led to a discovery Friday morning of a camp where somebody had apparently laid down, leaving behind candy wrappers and other items, D’Amico said.
The breakthrough came Friday shortly before 2 p.m., when a person towing a camper head a loud sound and thought a tire had blown out. Finding the tire intact, the driver drove another eight miles before discovering a bullet hole.
Authorities converged on the location where the sound was heard and discovered the smell of gunfire inside a cabin. D’Amico said there was also evidence someone had fled out the back door.
“As we were doing the ground search in the area, there was movement detected by officers on the ground, what they believed to be coughs. So they knew that they were dealing with humans as opposed to wildlife,” he said.
After Matt was killed, a 20-gauge shotgun that was believed to be missing from the cabin he broke into last weekend was recovered from his body, D’Amico said.
“Based on that, we continued to search. We have a lot of people in the area. We have canines and we have a decent perimeter set up and we’re searching for Sweat at this time,” he said.
D’Amico had no information that Sweat was not with or near Matt so a heavy search of the area would go on.
The pair escaped the prison together on June 6. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called them “dangerous, dangerous men.”
Police blocked off all roads as officers hunted for Sweat in an area around Titusville Mountain State Forest in Malone, spanning 22 square miles.
Mitch Johnson said one of his best friends checked on his hunting cabin in Malone Friday afternoon and called police after noticing the scent of grape flavored gin as soon as he stepped into his cabin and spotting the bottle that had gone untouched for years resting on a kitchen table.
Johnson said his friend, correction officer Bob Willett, told him he summoned police about an hour before Matt was fatally shot and then heard a flurry of gun blasts.
Matt and Sweat used power tools to saw through a steel cell wall and several steel steam pipes, bashed a hole through a 2-foot-thick brick wall, and squirmed through pipes to escape.
Sweat was serving a sentence of life without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serving 25 years to life for the killing and dismembering of his former boss.
A civilian worker at the prison has been charged with helping the killers flee by giving them hacksaw blades, chisels and other tools.
Prosecutors said Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailoring shop instructor who got close to the men while working with them, had agreed to be their getaway driver but backed out because she felt guilty for participating. Mitchell pleaded not guilty June 15 to charges including felony promoting prison contraband.
Authorities said the men had filled their beds in their adjacent cells with clothes to make it appear they were sleeping when guards made overnight rounds. On a cut steam pipe, the prisoners left a taunting note containing a crude caricature of an Asian face and the words “Have a nice day.”
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said they apparently used tools stored by prison contractors, taking care to return them to their toolboxes after each night’s work.
On June 24, authorities charged Clinton correction officer Gene Palmer with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. Officials said he gave the two prisoners the frozen hamburger meat Joyce Mitchell had used to hide the tools she smuggled to Sweat and Matt. Palmer’s attorney said he had no knowledge that the meat contained hacksaw blades, a bit and a screwdriver.
Dannemora, built in 1845, occupies just over 1 square mile within the northern reaches of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and is surrounded by forest and farmland. The stark white perimeter wall of the prison, topped with guard towers, borders a main street in the village’s business district.
The escape was the first in history from Clinton Correctional’s maximum-security portion. In July 2003, two convicted murderers used tools from a carpentry shop at Elmira Correctional Facility to dig a hole in the roof of their cell and a rope of bedsheets to go over the wall. They were captured within three days, and a subsequent state investigation cited lax inmate supervision, poor tool control and incomplete cell searches.
The Associated Press contributed to this report