Authorities search farms, fields for signs of New York escaped killers

WILLSBORO, New York (KRON/CNN) — Search crews scoured farms and fields around an upstate New York town on Tuesday, as the manhunt continues for two “dangerous” convicted murderers who escaped from a nearby prison days earlier, local officials said.

Corrections officers, New York State Police troopers, and Essex County Sheriff’s Office deputies took part in the search in Willsboro following a report of two suspicious individuals, said Nancy Crowningshield of the sheriff’s office.

The effort began early Tuesday, following something that happened overnight, according to Willsboro Town Supervisor Shaun Gillilland, who added it’s unclear exactly what prompted it.

The town is about 30 miles south of the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, where Richard Matt and David Sweat were reported missing at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

The daring prison escape has prompted intense ground and aerial searches for the men and instilled fear among residents in the region.

People living in the area, which is about 20 miles from the Canadian border, are worried that the convicted murders have killed before and could kill again — knowing they have no reason not to go down fighting, given that they’ll face life behind bars if caught.

Elizabeth Ahern, who lives in Plattsburgh, about 5 miles from the prison, isn’t taking any chances. The North Country, she says, is a place where people usually don’t bother locking their doors and have guns to hunt, not to guard themselves against criminals. But not anymore.

“It’s a scary situation,” Ahern told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday. “We are now closing our doors and locking them, and making sure we have knives and guns ready to go, just in case.”

There have been plenty of instances in which an inmate breaks out, then doesn’t know where to go for money, for food, for transportation. That kind of thing takes help or planning.

In this case, there’s every indication that a lot of planning — possibly weeks, months, if not years — went into the escape, so it seems likely the pair would have planned an elaborate getaway as well.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said they cut through a cell wall that included a quarter-inch thick steel, maneuvered across a catwalk, shimmied down six stories to a tunnel of pipes, followed that tunnel, broke through a double-brick wall, cut into a 24-inch steam pipe, shimmied their way through the steam pipe, cut another hole so they could get out of the pipe, and finally surfaced through a manhole.

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