DANNEMORA, N.Y. — U.S. search teams headed back into the northern New York woods Tuesday for an 11th day of trying to track down two convicted murderers who broke out of a maximum-security prison using tools that authorities say were provided by a woman who worked there.
More than 800 law enforcement officers who are searching for David Sweat and Richard Matt have steadily shifted their focus eastward along Route 374 leading from the village of Dannemora, home of Clinton Correctional Facility.
Officers, some with search dogs, made their way through woods in the neighbouring town of Plattsburgh, about 5 miles (8 kilometres) east of the prison.
Matt, 48, and Sweat, 35, escaped June 6 from the Clinton Correctional Facility near the Canadian border.
Sweat was serving a life sentence without parole for killing a sheriff’s deputy. Matt was doing 25 years to life for the 1997 kidnap, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.
Meanwhile, the woman charged with helping the killers flee by providing them with hacksaw blades, chisels and other tools made a second appearance in court Monday.
Prosecutors say Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailoring shop instructor who had befriended the inmates, had agreed to be the getaway driver but backed out because she still loved her husband and felt guilty for participating.
Mitchell, 51, made her second court appearance in Plattsburgh wearing a striped prison jumpsuit and a bulletproof vest. She waived a preliminary hearing, allowing the case to proceed to a county court.
Wylie said there was no evidence the men had a Plan B once Mitchell backed out, and no vehicles have been reported stolen in the area. That has led searchers to believe the men are still near the prison in Dannemora.
Mitchell was charged Friday with also supplying a punch and a screwdriver to the two inmates. Her lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for her. She has been suspended without pay from her $57,000-a-year job overseeing inmates who sew clothes and learn to repair sewing machines at the prison.
Authorities say the convicts used power tools to cut through the back of their adjacent cells, broke through a brick wall, then cut into a steam pipe and slithered through it, finally emerging outside the prison walls through a manhole. Wylie says they apparently used tools stored by prison contractors, taking care to return them to their toolboxes after each night’s work.
Workers have welded shut three manholes, including the one from which the convicts climbed out.