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N.Y. prison escapees elude 800 cops, 900 leads

By Andrew V. Pestano
1/11
In this composite handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat, left, and Richard Matt are shown. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., on June 6, using power tools to cut through steel walls and pipes. Photo courtesy of New York State Police/UPI
In this composite handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat, left, and Richard Matt are shown. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., on June 6, using power tools to cut through steel walls and pipes. Photo courtesy of New York State Police/UPI | License Photo

DANNEMORA, N.Y., June 15 (UPI) -- The two convicted murderers who escaped from a New York state prison have eluded efforts of 800 law enforcement officers, as the prison worker accused of helping them appeared in court Monday.

There have been nearly 900 leads on the escapees since the June 6 prison break.

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Joyce Mitchell, who worked as a tailor at the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility, appeared in court for a preliminary hearing that was canceled after her attorney had to drop out due to a conflict.

Mitchell is accused of supplying the men with the tools they used to break out.

"We don't know if they are still in the immediate area or if they are in Mexico by now," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday. "We had a lead that they were headed to the state of Vermont and... I called the governor of Vermont and we worked out a cooperative agreement with Vermont."

Police searched an area a few miles from the prison because there was a house break-in that was suspicious.

"We had over 800 people searching quadrants in an area where we had a tip that they might be," Cuomo added.

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Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, wanted to drive seven hours after escaping to a predetermined location with Mitchell, according to Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie.

The men did not tell Mitchell where they planned to go, Wylie said. The manhunt has expanded to Plattsburgh, about 15 miles away from Dannemora, where the prison is located.

"She was going to meet them at the power house," Wylie said, referring a power plant near the prison. "They were going to pop out of the manhole, they were going to take off, and the three of them would be, you know, leaving the area."

Mitchell, 51, pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges Friday night.

Authorities said the men cut through their cell walls, a steel plate and a 24-inch steam pipe and surfaced off the prison's grounds through a manhole.

"They were planning on driving approximately seven hours away in a wooded area where her vehicle would be needed -- a four-wheel-drive jeep," Wylie said, adding that it's surprising that a manhunt that costs $1 million a day has not returned many positive leads.

Matt had been serving 25 years to life for kidnapping, mutilating and killing a former boss in 1997. Sweat was serving a life sentence for killing a sheriff's deputy.

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Police have offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Matt and Sweat -- $50,000 for each. Mitchell faces up to eight years imprisonment if convicted.

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