Hunt for killers expands to Vermont; staffer under suspicion

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Officials: Escaped NY Prisoners May Have Been Headed To Vermont

DANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) — The manhunt for two escaped killers expanded to campsites and boat slips in Vermont on Wednesday, and State Police said a female prison staff member being questioned may have had a role in helping the men.

At a news conference outside the maximum-security prison, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said investigators learned that the inmates had talked before last weekend's breakout about going to neighboring Vermont.

"We have information that suggests they thought New York was going to be hot. Vermont would be cooler, in terms of law enforcement," Shumlin said on Day 5 of the search. "And that a camp in Vermont might be a better place to be. We do not."

He and other officials would not say how authorities learned that information.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico also said that a prison employee — identified in news reports as Joyce Mitchell, a training supervisor at the prison tailor shop — had befriended the killers and "may have had some role in assisting them."

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Convicted felons escape NY prison - Manhunt photos - updated 6/28
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Hunt for killers expands to Vermont; staffer under suspicion
DUANE, NY - JUNE 28: Correction officers line up for food and beverages at the Duane Fire Department as they take a break after searching a wooded area in the rain for convicted murderer David Sweat on June 28, 2015 near Duane, New York. On Friday Richard Matt, who escaped with Sweat, was shot and killed in the same area. More than 1,000 State Police, Border Patrol, correction officers, FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been searching for the pair since they were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DUANE, NY - JUNE 28: FBI agents cunduct a search for convicted murderer David Sweat on June 28, 2015 near Duane, New York. On Friday Richard Matt, who escaped with Sweat, was shot and killed in the same area. More than 1,000 State Police, Border Patrol, correction officers, FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been searching for the pair since they were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHASM FALLS, NY - JUNE 26: Law enforcement personnel prepare to head out on a search for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat continues on June 26, 2015 in Chasm Falls, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. DNA from the two was reportedly found recently in a remote hunting cabin about 15 miles west of the prison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
New York State Police officer Maj. Charles Guess holds a press conference to brief the media on the status of the manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat on June 26, 2015 in Malone, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. Police believe the fugitives are travelling through wooded areas at night, working their way north toward Canada. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHASM FALLS, NY - JUNE 26: Correction officers search around a home as the manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat continues on June 26, 2015 in Chasm Falls, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. DNA from the two was reportedly found recently in a remote hunting cabin about 15 miles west of the prison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHASM FALLS, NY - JUNE 26: Correction officers search around a home as the manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat continues on June 26, 2015 in Chasm Falls, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. DNA from the two was reportedly found recently in a remote hunting cabin about 15 miles west of the prison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 18: A home is seen near Clinton Correctional Facility on June 18, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. Two convicted murderers were found missing from the prison on June 6, a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres has been taking place since then. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 18: An abandoned building is seen near Clinton Correctional Facility on June 18, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. Two convicted murderers were found missing from the prison on June 6, a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres has been taking place since then. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 17: A section of land, previously closed due to an ongoing manhunt for two escaped convicts, is seen after officials decided to change strategies and reopen the restricted area, on June 17, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. After conducting a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced roads would be reopened and that road blocks would be closed on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 17: Jacob Fountain, age 10, holds on to a blue ribbon, which represents support for law enforcement, while waiting for police officers to drive by, on June 17, 2015 in Dannemora, New York. After conducting a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced roads would be reopened and that road blocks would be closed on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 17: Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie speaks at a press conference on June 17, 2015 in Plattsburgh, New York. After conducting a man hunt for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced the end of road blocks on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 17: Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie speaks at a press conference on June 17, 2015 in Plattsburgh, New York. After conducting a man hunt for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced the end of road blocks on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 15: A helicopter searches for two escaped convicts on June 15, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted murderers escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility during the early morning hours of June 6; officials have been conducting a manhunt for the two since. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 15: New York State Troopers check civilian cars at a check point on June 15, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. Two convicted murderers escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility during the early morning hours of June 6; officials have been conducting a manhunt for the two since. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: Police officers check automobiles for two escaped convicts at a mandatory check point June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. A manhunt has been underway since the two convicted killers were found missing from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on the morning of June 6. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area in Cadyville, New York June 13, 2015. Officials announced the arrest yesterday of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARANAC, NY - JUNE 13: Department of Corrections officers work a roadblock on June 13, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Law enforcement announced the arrest yesterday of prison worker Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for the two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 13: A manhole used by two prisoners who escaped the Clinton Correctional Facility on June 13, 2015 in Dannemora, New York. Law enforcement announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 13, 2015 in Cadyville, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARAN, NY - JUNE 14: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 14, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Officials announced the arrest yesterday of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARANAC, NY - JUNE 13: Department of Corrections officers work a roadblock on June 13, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Law enforcement announced the arrest yesterday of prison worker Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for the two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
WEST PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 14: A law enforcement officer works a checkpoint June 14, 2015 in West Plattsburgh, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, June 13, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 13, 2015 in Cadyville, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
WEST PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 14: A law enforcement officer works a checkpoint June 14, 2015 in West Plattsburgh, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, June 13, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 13, 2015 in Cadyville, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARAN, NY - JUNE 14: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 14, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Officials announced the arrest yesterday of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
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He would not elaborate.

Mitchell's son, Tobey Mitchell, told NBC that she checked herself into a hospital with chest pains Saturday. He said she wouldn't have helped the inmates escape.

Using power tools, inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt cut through a steel wall, broke through bricks and crawled through a steam pipe before emerging through a manhole in the street outside the 3,000-inmate Clinton Correctional Facility in far northern New York, about 20 miles from the Canadian border.

The breakout was discovered early Saturday, meaning the inmates may have had a head start of several hours, Cuomo said.

Authorities suspect they had help from the inside in obtaining the power tools. Unions representing guards and civilian staff members at the prison said many have been questioned by investigators but no one has been suspended, disciplined or charged.

Vermont authorities are patrolling Lake Champlain and areas alongside it, Shumlin said. Cuomo urged the people of Vermont to be on the alert and report anything suspicious, warning: "Trust me, these men are nothing to be trifled with."

As part of the search, state troopers and correction officers in helmets and body armor retraced their steps around the prison, checking garage doors, sheds, windows and other structures for signs of a break-in or other clues.

More than 450 federal and state law enforcement officers were taking part in the search, including customs agents, federal marshals and park rangers.

But at the late-afternoon news conference, D'Amico confessed: "I have no information on where they are or what they're doing, to be honest with you."

The killers' mugshots have been put on more than 50 digital billboards in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, state police said, and a $100,000 reward has been posted.

Law enforcement officials again asked the public to report anything out of the ordinary.

"We don't want them out searching the woods," Sheriff David Favro said. "But if you're sitting on your porch, get your binoculars out and see if you see something unusual."

In Dannemora, Barbara McCasland said officers asked to search her home but she told them no.

"I'm pretty battened down here," she said. "My windows are locked and everything."

As the manhunt dragged on, she said she was getting worried: "I wasn't in the beginning, but seeing that they've been out there so long, I am a little nervous."

Many in the prison town greeted the return of the searchers with a shrug. Many suspect Sweat and Matt are long gone and they are past any danger.

"I'm not worried about it," Jackie Trombley said.

Referring to the searchers swarming the area, she said: "We've got these guys down the road. They're everywhere, so it really doesn't bother me."

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