US hunt for escaped killers shifts after possible sighting
FRIENDSHIP, New York - The Associated Press
REUTERS PhotoThe search for two convicted killers in New York shifted after possible sightings in the southern part of the state, 350 miles (565 kilometers) from the prison where the men escaped two weeks ago.
New York State Police spokesman Beau Duffy said officers were investigating a possible sighting of the prisoners in Allegany County near the Pennsylvania border.
A person spotted two men June 20 near a railroad line in the town of Friendship, state police said.
David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped June 6 from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border. The two broke out of the maximum-security prison using power tools and leaving behind dummies under bedcovers in their adjoining cells.
A door-to-door search involving up to 800 law enforcement officers has been underway since then, concentrated in a several-mile (kilometer) radius of woods and fields around the prison in the Adirondacks.
State police moved the search command post from the prison June 20 to nearby Cadyville and focused attention on the other side of the state. They advised the public to report any suspicious activity and asked residents who live in the Friendship area along the New York-Pennsylvania border to be on alert.
The two men are "very dangerous" and should not be approached, state police said.
Several roads around Friendship were blocked off and police used helicopters and search dogs in the hunt. Resident Darryl Ross told The Leader newspaper he was securing his property.
"I was a little concerned. You have these guys running around. You don't know where they are," Ross said.
"I have a house with a big cellar and a big garage. I cleared the house. I had firearm protection."
Authorities said June 19 that two men fitting the description of Sweat and Matt had been seen a week ago in Steuben County, east of Allegany County.
Sweat, 35, was serving a life sentence without parole for killing a sheriff's deputy. Matt, 48, was doing 25 years to life for the 1997 kidnap, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.
Prison worker Joyce Mitchell remained in custody June 20 on charges she helped the two men escape by providing them hacksaw blades, chisels and other tools. She has pleaded not guilty.
Officials said a corrections officer also has been placed on administrative leave as part of the investigation into the men's escape.