The multi-state manhunt for two convicted murderers who escaped a maximum-security prison in upstate New York remains intense, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday, but authorities are still uncertain about their whereabouts or condition.
Cuomo’s comments came on the ninth day of the search for David Sweat and Richard Matt, who broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, about 20 miles south of Canada, on June 6. Hundreds of law enforcement officers are scouring the region for traces of Matt, 48, and Sweat, who turned 35 on Sunday, but the hunt has so far been fruitless.
“We don’t know if they are still in the area or if they’re in Mexico by now,” Cuomo said, fielding a question about the manhunt at a news conference on a school aid, the Associated Press reports. He added that there will be “zero tolerance” for anyone found to have assisted the escapees.
“If an employee was facilitating or an accomplice to this escape,” Cuomo said, “they will be fully prosecuted.”
A once-sympathetic prison worker who authorities have arrested on charges of providing them with the tools needed to escape also apparently planned to drive them to an area hours away, according to Clinton Country District Attorney Andrew Wylie. CNN reports that court documents accuse Joyce Mitchell of providing the convicts with a hole punch, screwdriver drill bit, chisels and hacksaw blades in the lead-up to their jailbreak.
“They were going to meet down by the power plant, drive—I’m not going to say into the sunset, because it was after midnight and it was dark out—but they were going to drive, potentially to an area that was about seven hours away,” Wylie said on Saturday. He added that “Mitchell ditched the plan to pick up the two inmates partly because she loves her husband and she didn’t want to do this to him.”
Mitchell, 51, pleaded not guilty on Friday to promoting prison contraband, a felony charge, and criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor. She is due in court on Monday.