Modified Search For Escapees Continues
It has been 11 days, and still the two murderers who bolted from a maximum security prison in Dannemora are on the loose. Law enforcement officials today gave an update on the search for escaped Clinton Correctional prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat, admitting that while they may not be in the area, the search in northern New York will continue.
At the height of the search there were nearly 800 searchers combing the Cadyville area near the Clinton Correctional facility. As of Wednesday, personnel are being re-deployed to areas beyond the 16-square mile area. Roadblocks have been removed and roads reopened. New York State Police Troop B Commander Charles Guess, the incident commander, says despite a reduction in force of about 200 and the change in focus, it is still a very active search. “Even though the road blocks and perimeter no longer exists, we have quadrupled the number of roving patrols. There is still a very strong presence in this region. I will assure that we retain the number of tactical, canine, aviation and ground search elements to close in rapidly on any location given the proper lead from our investigators.”
Troop B BCI Captain Robert Lafountain said all agencies remain relentless in the search for the fugitives. “We are going to locate these individuals and they will be apprehended. The complexity of this investigation cannot be described. Every lead is being followed up on to its conclusion. To date we have established approximately 1,300 leads. We have no information that they have been able to leave the area. That being said, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been able to escape this area. So therefore we are concentrating our efforts not only in this vicinity but throughout the nation and beyond.”
The only person in custody related to the escape is suspended correctional facility tailor shop employee Joyce Mitchell. She has been charged with charged criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor, and with promoting prison contraband, a felony, for providing Matt and Sweat with gloves, hacksaw blades, a punch tool, chisels and a screwdriver bit.
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie confirmed that their escape plans included a plot to kill Joyce Mitchell’s husband Lyle. “The reports that it was discussed between Joyce Mitchell and the two escapees, the information we have from Joyce Mitchell is that that occurred. That that plot had occurred.”
But the D.A. also expressed doubts about the plausibility of such a plot. “It doesn’t make sense why they would do that. They pop out of the hole you would think they’d get out of the village as soon and as quickly as possible. Not commit another homicide. Escaping from Clinton Correctional facility doesn’t make sense that it happened. That’s just my personal opinion that it doesn’t make sense that these two individuals who made this elaborate plan to leave the area would do that. But we have no reason to disbelieve at this point in time Joyce and those statements that she made to us. We continue to investigate it though.”
Mitchell is being held in the Rensselaer County jail.
More than 600 officers continue searching surrounding areas. State police have also released modified photographs of what Matt and Sweat may look like after almost two weeks outside of prison.