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David Sweat, Richard Matt manhunt: police swamp US town after jailbreak

Published 10/06/2015

Police hunt for David Sweat and Richard Matt. Above: Two law enforcement officers make their way across a lawn and onto Pleasant Street on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 in Dannemora, N.Y (Rob Fountain /The Press-Republican via AP)
Police hunt for David Sweat and Richard Matt. Above: Two law enforcement officers make their way across a lawn and onto Pleasant Street on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 in Dannemora, N.Y (Rob Fountain /The Press-Republican via AP)

Hundreds of police in body armour have poured into a small town in New York state in the search for two killers, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who used power tools to break out of a maximum security prison 30 miles away.

The hunt that began over the weekend focused on Willsboro, close to Lake Champlain, in the Adirondack foothills, after residents reported seeing a couple of men walking on a road during a driving rainstorm.

Hundreds of black-clad searchers wearing bulletproof vests and sidearms methodically worked their way shoulder-to-shoulder in the rain through hilly woods, fields and swamps, checking every home, garage, shed and outbuilding.

By early evening, it appeared the sweep had come up empty, and there was no confirmation from police that the escaped convicts had been there.

Authorities have fielded numerous tips since the breakout from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, about 20 miles from the Canadian border, but appeared to have jumped hardest on this one.

Sweat, 34, and Matt, 48, cut through a steel wall, broke through bricks and crawled through a steam pipe before emerging through a manhole outside the prison grounds.

They were discovered missing early on Saturday after stuffing their beds with clothes to fool guards on their rounds and leaving behind a taunting note: "Have a nice day."

Given the meticulous planning that went into the breakout, there was speculation that the inmates had arranged for someone to pick them up outside the prison and were long gone from the area. On Monday, authorities said the inmates could be anywhere - perhaps Canada or Mexico.

Willsboro dairy farmer George Sayward said he saw officers parked next to his barn and they told him they were there because of a possible sighting of the convicts. He said he heard one trooper tell another to call in 100 more men: "The next thing I know, there were a ton of them, by the busload."

State police said more than 400 corrections and other law enforcement officers were in the area.

UNDATED: In this handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown i n this composite image. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by New York State Police via Getty Images)
UNDATED: In this handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown i n this composite image. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by New York State Police via Getty Images)
DANNERMORA, NY - JUNE 6: In this handout from the New York State Governor's Office, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo walks past jail cells where two convicted murderers fled from the Clinton Correctional Facility June 6, 2014 in Dannemora, New York. Police are on a manhunt for Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, who escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by Darren McGee/New York State Governor's Office via Getty Images)
DANNERMORA, NY - JUNE 6: In this handout from the New York State Governor's Office, shows where two convicted murderers used power tools to cut through steel pipes at the Clinton Correctional Facility June 6, 2014 in Dannemora, New York. Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by Darren McGee/New York State Governor's Office via Getty Images)
DANNERMORA, NY - JUNE 6: In this handout from the New York State Governor's Office, shows where two convicted murderers used power tools to cut through steel pipes at the Clinton Correctional Facility June 6, 2014 in Dannemora, New York. Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by Darren McGee/New York State Governor's Office via Getty Images)
DANNERMORA, NY - JUNE 6: In this handout from the New York State Governor's Office, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (R) is shown the manhole where two convicted murderers escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility June 6, 2014 in Dannemora, New York. Police are on a manhunt for Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, who escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by Darren McGee/New York State Governor's Office via Getty Images)
A law enforcement agent looks through a sniper scope while another in camouflage assembles a weapon during a search for two escaped killers in Boquet, N.Y., Tuesday, June 9, 2015. State and federal law officers are searching for David Sweat and Richard Matt, two killers who used power tools to break out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannnemora, close to the Canadian border. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Heavily armed law enforcement agents patrol the edge of road during a search for two escaped killers near Boquet, N.Y., Tuesday, June 9, 2015. State and federal law officers are searching for David Sweat and Richard Matt, two killers who used power tools to break out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannnemora, close to the Canadian border. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Law enforcement officials check the back of trucks at a check point near the border of Dannemora, N.Y., Wednesday, June 10, 2015. Police were resuming house-to-house searches near the maximum-security prison in northern New York where David Sweat and Richard Matt , two killers escaped using power tools. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The escape from the 3,000-inmate state prison has raised suspicions the men had help on the inside.

Investigators have been questioning prison staff and outside contractors to try to find out who supplied the power tools. Contractors have been doing extensive renovations at the 170-year-old prison, a hulking, fortress-like structure that looms over Dannemora's main street.

A 100,000 dollar (£65,000) reward has been posted for information leading to the men's capture.

Sweat was convicted for the 2002 killing of a sheriff's deputy and was doing life without parole. Matt was serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and dismembering his boss in 1997.

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