(DANNEMORE, N.Y.) — The manhunt for two inmates who escaped from an upstate New York prison intensified after bloodhounds picked up a strong scent, suggesting the escapees could be nearby, an official briefed on the search told ABC News.
New York State Police closed a road east of Dannemora to investigate.
A stretch of State Route 374 — nearly eight miles long — remains closed Thursday morning, and residents can expect an increased police presence in the area, according to a police news release. In addition, Saranac Central School District is closed on Thursday, with Superintendent of Schools Johnathan Parks wanting to “get out of law enforcement’s way” as the search continues for David Sweat and Richard Matt, he told ABC News.
Helicopters buzzed through the area late Wednesday, scanning amid the fog. Searchlights and headlights were used to illuminate fields and farmland, while porch and garage lights shined from homes, all meant to aid the search efforts.
There has been no confirmed physical sighting of either man, but authorities are hopeful that daylight will offer improved search opportunities.
Sweat and Matt, both convicted murderers, were reported missing from Clinton Correctional Facility, located about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, on Saturday.
The inmates may have considered Vermont as “a possible destination,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said at a Wednesday news conference.
Corrections officers, other inmates and contract employees who worked at the prison are among those being interviewed by investigators, and New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico confirmed that training supervisor Joyce Mitchell was among the interviewees.
“She befriended the inmates and she may have had some role in assisting them, but I’m not going to go into any further details,” D’Amico said.
Mitchell, who has not been charged, is cooperating with investigators, according to two sources briefed on the probe. Authorities are investigating whether she played a role in the escapees’ getting the tools they used to break out of prison, the sources said.
Cuomo said “it’s very possible” the escapees “had a several-hour head start on us,” making the potential search area relatively widespread.
“I am confident we will find them. The only question is when,” he said.
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