After 11-Day Manhunt, Search for Killers to Change Focus

New York State Police announced late Tuesday they will move their search area

 Late Tuesday, the New York State Police announced its search for two escaped killers from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, will change its focus.

The search for Richard Matt and David Sweat will shift and expand to other areas around Dannemora, based on information collected during the investigation, New York State Police said. Teams from a collection of state, federal, county, and local law enforcement agencies have searched more than 10,000 acres and followed more than 1,200 leads, police said.

The section of Route 374 that was closed to traffic in Cadyville will reopen Tuesday, police announced. The road closed last Wednesday after New York State Police K9 units picked up the scent of both suspects at different locations in a heavily wooded area adjacent to the road, according to a New York State Police press release.

This area has been extensively searched, and evidence recovered suggests that the escaped inmates may have spent time there, according to the news release. The ground search of this immediate area will be scaled back but patrols will continue, the release said.

For much of day 11 of the manhunt for Richard Matt and David Sweat, rain frustrated the ongoing work by 800-plus officers combing thousands of acres of often dense woods around the prison in Dannemora, New York.

Police stood watch over the Saranac Central School District, and after skies cleared Tuesday, helicopters got back in the air, continuing their scans for the escapees as law enforcement did the same on the ground.

There have still been no confirmed sightings of Richard Matt or David Sweat since their daring escape through the bowels of the correctional facility. Because the pair hasn't turned up elsewhere, police have to treat the area around the prison as a possible hiding spot.

"They may want to go out in a blaze of glory," warned forensic psychologist Tom Powell, of Vermont Forensic Assessment in Shelburne.

Powell said Matt and Sweat likely don't just thumb their noses at law enforcement, but see police as enemies. Matt, who dismembered a former boss, escaped prison for a few days in 1986, and Sweat killed a sheriff's deputy.

"There's a thrill, there's a stimulation in being in a fight situation with law enforcement," Powell said of the minds of Matt and Sweat. "They're used to it, they've done this before. That excitement really makes them extremely dangerous."

Powell, who has conducted countless psychological exams in prisons, said he suspects Matt and Sweat are likely laughing about all the nerves they've rattled and taxpayer dollars they've wasted. He said he thinks the killers will stay out of sight, only revealing their now well-known faces if they have a need, like wanting to steal a car.

"If one of us got in the way of that, they wouldn't think twice about taking care of us the way they know how," Powell cautioned.

Because of that dangerousness, police have urged people near the prison who detect anything out of the ordinary, such as signs of a break-in, to call 911.

Anyone with other info about the escape is asked to call 1-800-GIVE-TIP.

As for the killers' alleged accomplice, prison tailor shop worker Joyce Mitchell, Powell said she was "probably a sucker" in the plot.

Mitchell allegedly smuggled the duo tools, including saws, to aid their escape. Investigators said love led Joyce Mitchell to agree to be a getaway driver, as well, before she got cold feet.

"It's not that uncommon for staff to develop sometimes inappropriate relationships with inmates," Powell said. "Trust begins to form between inmates and staff. Over time, there is a tendency to forget what they did, if you ever knew in the first place, and to see them for who they are on a day-to-day basis."

Powell said he suspects Matt and Sweat picked Mitchell as an easy target, and likely spent a long time grooming her; leading her to believe she owed them favors.

"She was probably played by them and didn't see it coming," Powell said.

Joyce Mitchell faces up to eight years in prison but more charges could be coming, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said.

Tuesday, Mitchell's husband, Lyle, visited her in jail, according to Clinton County Sheriff David Favro.

Contact Us