UPDATE, 12:15 p.m.: The New York State Police have a “confirmed lead” on the two escaped inmates, who may have spent time in a cabin in the upstate town Owls Head, Maj. Charles Guess said at a media briefing Monday. He added that items from the cabin have been sent in for testing but declined to give specifics.
“Law enforcement is maintaining a strong and visible presence in this area, and that will continue until this is closed,” Guess said. “We’re going to run this to the ground.”
Several factors have made the manhunt difficult, including weather and terrain, he said. Guess urged locals with trail cameras to review the footage for suspicious activity and tell police if they find something.
The New York State Police were scheduled to update the media Monday on their search for the two inmates who escaped from Clinton County Correctional Facility earlier this month. More than two weeks after the duo fled the prison, officers were still looking for Richard Matt and David Sweat, who as of Sunday night were thought to be near the Owls Head and Mountain View areas of Franklin County.
Authorities finished their sweep of Allegany County this weekend. They moved to Franklin County, still in upstate New York, on Sunday after a witness said they saw a person sprinting into the woods outside of a cabin that had been broken into. CBS News cited anonymous sources that claimed police had found DNA evidence linked to the inmates inside. BreakingNews.com will live-stream the police's media briefing Monday here at noon.
Owls Head is about 20 miles away from the Clinton prison, but NBC News reported the space around the prison itself was still a priority. "We will search under every rock, behind every tree and structure until we are confident that that area is secure," Maj. Michael J. Cerretto said at a news conference.
Matt and Sweat used power tools to cut their way out of their cells on June 6 and crawl through the pipes of the prison. A prison employee, 51-year-old Joyce Mitchell, was subsequently arrested for providing equipment that helped them break out, Agence France-Presse reported.
Police initially thought the inmates had fled to Friendship, about 260 miles away, because a woman said she'd spotted two men fitting the inmates' descriptions walking along a railroad track there. Hundreds of New York officers searched the area and turned up nothing.
Matt and Sweat were considered armed and dangerous. Matt was serving a 25-year sentence for kidnapping, torturing and dismembering his former boss in 1997, and Sweat was serving a life sentence for murdering a sheriff's deputy in 2002. There's a $75,000 reward for any information leading to their capture.