Two convicted killers who escaped from prison in upstate New York may have crossed the state border to go to Vermont, authorities said on Wednesday.
Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, whose absence were discovered during a routine morning check on Saturday, are thought to have escaped between late on Friday and early on Saturday from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, a maximum security prison.
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said more than 400 law enforcement officers were looking “behind every tree, under every rock, and inside every structure” for Matt and Sweat. The state is offering a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the duo’s capture.
Matt was convicted for kidnapping, torturing and killing a businessman, with a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, the maximum for second-degree murder.
Sweat was serving a life sentence without parole for shooting then running over a sheriff’s deputy. He pleaded guilty to first degree murder to avoid the death penalty.
Outside Clinton Correctional Facility, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the Canadian border, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said the search area had expanded to include campsites, public campgrounds with patrols on Lake Champlain, cutting across New York and Vermont.
Officials said law enforcement personnel were canvassing homes and seasonal residences with checkpoints set up in hamlets and towns in the vicinity of Dannemora.
At the same news conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said “We have information that would suggest that Vermont was discussed as a possible location.”
He said if that were the case, “Vermont is engaged and Vermont is mobilised and we are working hand in glove, and we will be coordinating several times a day to make sure every lead we have, every piece of information is shared.”
Authorities said New York state troopers would be allowed across state lines if needed, thanks to an agreement with Vermont. However according to D’Amico, there is no hard evidence that the two men had left New York state.
New York State Police said on Monday the suspects are “both considered to be a danger to the public” and urged citizens not to approach them.
Cuomo, saying the inmates may have gotten a head start of several hours before the manhunt got underway, repeated the warning, saying “These men are nothing to be trifled with."