Two prisoners who escaped from an upstate New York prison 4.5 days ago may have headed to the neighboring state of Vermont.
The governors of both states told reporters Wednesday that they have information indicating that Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, may be going to Vermont.
“We have information that suggests they thought New York was going to be hot and Vermont would be cooler in terms of law enforcement and that a camp in Vermont might be a better place to be,” said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.
The Vermont border is 48 kilometers from the Clinton Correctional facility in the rural town of Dannemora, New York.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said authorities have not ruled out any possibility in their search for the fugitives, who made a dramatic, movie-worthy escape from the prison Friday night. The prisoners used power tools to cut through their cell wall and various pipes before making their way through tunnels to emerge from a manhole in a Dannemora street.
Shumlin said Vermont police had been mobilized around the state and would be working closely with their New York counterparts. He added officials would keep a close eye on Lake Champlain, which lies on the Vermont border and has numerous recreation and camping areas.
He cautioned again that the two men are considered dangerous. “It is no time to panic,” he said. “It is time to be sensible.”
Authorities say they believe the two men are on foot, but Cuomo said he believes they had a head start. “It’s very possible they had a several-hour start on us.”
New York police officials say they have received more than 500 tips and are working hard to follow up on every one. So far, they say, they have no idea where the fugitives are.
Questions have been raised about how the inmates obtained the tools, and why the noise did not draw the attention of prison staff or other inmates.
Sweat was serving a life sentence for the 2002 death of a sheriff's deputy. Matt was facing 25 years to life in prison on murder, kidnapping and robbery charges following the 1997 killing of a man.
Governor Cuomo has said the duo "definitely had help" in their escape.