Search for escaped murderers enters 7th day in northern NY

Police Questioning Prison Worker at Clinton Correctional Facility


DANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) — Squads of law enforcement officers on Friday began a seventh day of trying to track down two murderers who escaped from a maximum-security prison in northern New York and could be hiding out in swampy terrain swarming with blood-sucking insects.

Armed officers in body armor boarded New York state prison system buses soon after dawn in the village of Dannemora, where David Sweat and Richard Matt used power tools to cut their way out of their neighboring cells last weekend.

Meanwhile, suspicions swirled around a female prison employee believed to have had a role in the escape last weekend.

The hundreds of state, federal and local officers spent Thursday searching a swampy patch of woods just east of Dannemora after investigators received tips that the convicts were in the area. Tracking dogs had picked up the scent in the morning.

Search teams slogged knee-deep through marshes and steams and endured the Adirondacks' biggest warm-weather nuisances: swarms of black flies and mosquitoes.


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Convicted felons escape NY prison - Manhunt photos - updated 6/28
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Search for escaped murderers enters 7th day in northern NY
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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State Route 374, the main road leading into Dannemora, remained closed for a second day Friday, as did the local school district.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the law will come down hard on any prison system employee who crosses the line.

"If you do it, you will be convicted, and then you'll be on the other side of the prison that you've been policing, and that is not a pleasant place to be," Cuomo said. He also said investigators are "talking to several people who may have facilitated the escape."

Investigators believe the prison employee had agreed to be the getaway driver, but she never showed up, a person close to the case told The Associated Press.

Sweat, 34, and Matt, 48, cut through steel and bricks and crawled through an underground steam pipe. They emerged from a manhole outside the 40-foot walls of the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, and were discovered missing early Saturday, authorities said.

The person close to the investigation said authorities believe Joyce Mitchell — an instructor at the prison tailor shop, where the two convicts worked — had befriended the men and was supposed to pick them up Saturday morning.

The person said that was one reason the manhunt was focused so close to the prison. The person was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mitchell has not been charged. Her son Tobey Mitchell told NBC on Wednesday that she checked herself into a hospital with chest pains Saturday. He said she would not have helped the inmates escape.

A longtime neighbor also was stunned by the suspicions swirling around Mitchell.

"I just can't believe she'd do something so stupid," neighbor Sharon Currier said. She said Mitchell is always happy to help people, but she's "not somebody who's off the wall."

She said Mitchell is a former town tax collector in Dickinson, a community near Dannemora. Quick with a laugh and skilled at sewing, she has worked for five or more years at the prison, where her husband also works, Currier said.

As police using dogs and helicopters blocked off a main road, residents in Dannemora received automated calls Thursday warning them to lock their doors, close their windows and leave outside lights on.

But Cuomo noted that authorities are still uncertain where the inmates might be hiding. "Look, they could either be four miles from the prison or they could be in Mexico. Right? So you just don't know," he said.

State Police said they bolstered the force looking for the fugitives to 500 officers from 450 a day earlier.

Sheriff David Favro said there had been no reports of stolen or abandoned vehicles, break-ins or abductions.

Jennifer Hilchey-Reyell, who lives on the edge of the search area, heard low-flying helicopters all night and watched state police SUVs race by all day. She said she now carries a .22-caliber gun and relies also on her pit bull, Layla.

"My dog will slow them down, and that's all I need," she said.

Matt was serving 25 years to life for the 1997 kidnap, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of Matt's 76-year-old former boss, whose body was found in pieces in a river.

Matt and an accomplice stuffed William Rickerson in a car trunk in his pajamas and drove around with him for 27 hours because he wouldn't tell them the location of large sums of money he was believed to have. According to testimony, Matt snapped Rickerson's neck with his bare hands.

After the killing, Matt fled to Mexico, where he killed a man outside a bar.

Sweat was doing life without parole for his part in the 2002 killing of sheriff's Deputy Kevin Tarsia, who was shot 15 times and run over after discovering Sweat and two accomplices transferring stolen guns between vehicles.

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