DANNEMORA, N.Y. — A manhunt for two convicted murderers has jumped from a railroad line near the Pennsylvania state line to a hamlet in far northern New York not far from the prison they escaped from more than two weeks ago.
Searchers on Monday swarmed the heavily wooded area just 20 miles west of the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility. Investigators and military trucks began converging on Mountain View, in Franklin County, late Sunday.
Acting Franklin County District Attorney Glenn MacNeill told WPTZ-TV on Sunday that a person had been seen fleeing from a hunting camp in the area.
The search was focused over the weekend on two towns in Allegany County, more than 350 miles from the prison. An unconfirmed but credible report came in that two men resembling the prisoners had been spotted near a railroad line that runs along a county road.
Officials had vowed to search "under every rock" and "behind every tree" as law enforcement officers combed through a rural, mountainous area near the Pennsylvania border dotted with sheds, trailers, summer homes and other potential hideouts.
Inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped from the prison in Dannemora on June 6. Since then, more than 800 law enforcement officers have gone door-to-door checking houses, wooded areas, campgrounds and summer homes.
Vermont State Police also joined the search Sunday, but it wasn't immediately known where they were sent. The prison is just across the river from Vermont.
Sweat, 35, was serving a life sentence without parole for killing a sheriff's deputy. Matt, 48, was doing 25 years to life for the 1997 kidnapping, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.
On Saturday, hundreds of searchers scoured two towns in Allegany County more than 350 miles from the prison after an unconfirmed but credible report that two men resembling Sweat and Matt had been spotted near a railroad line that runs along a county road. New York State Police said Monday morning that the search in the towns of Amity and Friendship in western New York had concluded.
Prison worker Joyce Mitchell remained in custody on charges she helped the two men escape by providing them hacksaw blades, chisels and other tools. She has pleaded not guilty.
Officials said a corrections officer had been placed on administrative leave as part of the investigation into the men's escape.
Attorney Andrew Brockway told Plattsburgh television station WPTZ that the officer, Gene Palmer, was completely forthcoming during 14 hours of questioning Saturday.
"I can 100 percent confirm that he did not know they were planning on breaking out of the prison," Brockway said.
Palmer has not been charged.