Bloodhounds may have picked up escaped killers' scent near N.Y. prison

Dogs picked up a scent that officials suspect came from the two inmates out on New York's longest prison break in history.

Chris Wattie/Reuters
Law enforcement officials search a street near the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York June 10, 2015.

Bloodhounds identified a scent officials suspect came from escaped killers Richard Matt and David Sweat about three miles from Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York, CNN reported. Police set off search area on Thursday around the location, where an unidentified boot print, food wrappers, and an imprint in the grass were also found.

More than 450 law enforcement agents are currently involved in the search, which is focused in the areas north of New York’s Adirondack Park and in neighboring Vermont, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico told Reuters.

Mr. Matt and Mr. Sweat were discovered missing from the maximum-security prison in Dannemora, New York early Saturday morning.

Former FBI agent Jonathan Gilliam told CNN that the scent identified in the woods was a “good clue” because  it indicates that the pair was not immediately picked up by an outside party.

He added that the upstate New York forest where the scent was picked up was a harsh environment.

"If they are not good in the woods, it's an instant trap when they get out," Gilliam said. "... If you have to steal food or steal a car, that's going to leave more clues."

Though police are also searching in Vermont, the Vermont state police said in a press release Wednesday that the pair had not been sighted in the state, whose Lake Champlain ferry lies 40 miles south of Clinton. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said Wednesday at a press conference the pair might have believed law enforcement would be easier to evade outside of New York.

“We have information that suggests that they thought New York was going to be hot, Vermont would be cooler, in terms of law enforcement, and that a camp in Vermont might be a better place to be than New York,” Governor Shumlin said.

Police questioned Clinton prison worker Joyce Mitchell. NBC News reported that Matt had established a relationship with Ms. Mitchell over the course of several months, and that she thought it was love. Sources said Mitchell had agreed to be Matt and Sweat’s getaway driver, but subsequently backed out and checked herself into the hospital Saturday for issues regarding nerves. Her son, Tobey Mitchell, said she had been having “severe chest pains.”

Matt and Sweat escaped the prison by drilling through the prison’s steel walls and crawling through underground pipes and out a manhole. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told The New York Times authorities were investigating how the pair was able to acquire the power tools and use them without detection, but that “the first order of business is to get these killers back.”

This is the first break Clinton has ever experienced, and the longest-duration prison break in New York’s history, officials said. According to New York Department of Corrections data, the longest New York prison escape prior to this one lasted three days. In the last 10 years, 30 inmates have successfully broken out of New York prisons, and in 60 percent of those cases, the inmate was caught within six hours.

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