By Maya Rhodan
June 11, 2015

The hunt for two convicted murderers who escaped a New York state prison is heating up, as bloodhounds may have picked up the escapees’ scent just a few miles from the facility.

CNN, citing officials and anonymous sources, reports that workers searching for David Sweat and Richard Matt have also found a shoe or boot print, food wrappers and a possible location of bedding that may be connected to the pair, in the search area that officials zeroed in on after the dogs detected a scent.

New York and neighboring state officials have been on high alert since Sweat and Matt were discovered missing from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility on Saturday during an early-morning bed check. State officials said Wednesday that the escapees had possibly traveled to Vermont, with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin implying at a news conference the two might have figured New York would have been “too hot” with police and traveled to a Vermont campsite.

Vermont State Police said in a press release, however, that there had been no sighting of the pair in their state, yet still warned citizens to remain cautious.

Upstate New York has indeed been “hot” with police since news broke that the two convicted killers were on the lam. The Washington Post reports that more than 450 law enforcement agents are looking for Sweat and Matt. Authorities have shuttered swaths of State Route 374, a highway near the facility, and a local school district closed all campuses on Thursday to aid police in their search.

Officials are urging citizens to take an abundance of caution, going door-to-door to issue warnings and following up on leads. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly warned that the men are “desperate” and “dangerous.”

“These are not nice guys. They kill. They maim,” said Gov. Shumlin on Thursday. “They’ll do anything, they’ll steal anything to try to remain free.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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