On Tuesday, the search for Richard Matt and David Sweat, two convicted murderers who successfully escaped a maximum security prison with power tools over the weekend, led the police to a small upstate New York town of Willsboro.
As reported by NBC News, Beau Duffy, a spokesman for the New York State Police, said that police arrived with heavy ground and aviation presence after they received a specific tip about the sighting of Matt and Sweat from the Willsboro area, across Lake Champlain from Burlington, Vermont, which is 40 miles southeast of Clinton Correctional Facility.
The swarm of officials that responded along Middle Road in Willsboro consisted of state troopers, forest rangers, FBI agents, sheriff’s deputies, K-9 units, Corrections Department agents and a helicopter, as reported by NBC station WPTZ.
Please lock house and car doors tonight. Avoid walking around town if possible. There will be increased police patrols tonight.
— Town of Willsboro (@TownofWillsboro) June 9, 2015
Duffy said, “We are continuing to pursue that lead down in Willsboro but it would be inaccurate to say they are cornered.”
A woman working in the prison tailor shop where the convicts had menial jobs was questioned by officers investigating Matt’s escape. She has been identified as Joyce Mitchell, who, according to her Facebook page, is an industrial training supervisor at the prison.
According to CNN, several calls were made from her phone to people connected to Matt. When these calls were made and who made these calls, in addition to whether Joyce was aware that her phone was being used, has not been determined yet.
Tobey Mitchell, Joyce’s son, said that her mother would not have helped the prisoners escape. He said that she would not “risk her life or other people’s lives to help these guys escape.”
He further added that at the time of the escape, Joyce was in the hospital for severe chest pains.
Matt’s son, Nicholas Harris, said his father had escaped imprisonment before.
“He has escaped before,” Harris said.
The search for Matt and Sweat came after two residents reported they saw the convicts in their backyard at 12:30 a.m. Saturday holding what they say was a guitar case. This case was reportedly kept in another prisoner’s cell, and Matt and Sweat used it to hide the power tools they deployed for their escape.
One of the residents said that the men they saw responded, “We’re just lost. We don’t know where we are. We’re on the wrong street,” when they were confronted.
Matt and Sweat have maintained good behavior during their sentence to secure a place on the prison’s “honor black,” wherein they were allowed to wear clothes other than their prison uniforms.
Matt was arrested for three counts of murder, three counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery after kidnapping and beating to death his boss, William Rickerson, in 1997. In a trial with heightened court security, he was sentenced to 25 years to life.
Almost a decade earlier, he escaped upstate New York’s Erie County Correctional Facility by climbing over a wall and gate. Razor wire atop the wall caused injuries to his forearms. According to Yahoo News, Matt was found after five days in a family apartment in Tonawanda, New York, near Buffalo, Harris said.
Sweat had arrested for the murder of sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Tarsia in 2002, and was serving a life sentence.
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