David Sweat and Richard Matt were spotted again on Saturday, with witnesses saying the two escaped inmates were walking in a rural area in Western New York about 90 miles from Rochester.
The sighting was reported on Saturday afternoon in the town of Friendship in Allegany County. The town is located along a major traffic corridor on Route I-86, which runs from the state’s southwestern border with Pennsylvania to New York City in the east. But police have not said if the two have access to a vehicle.
The two escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, using power tools to break their way into the prison’s piping system. They allegedly had help from Joyce Mitchell, a prison employee who police say supplied them with the tools needed to escape and had planned to serve as their getaway driver before getting cold feet and backing out.
Police appear to be taking Saturday’s sighting very seriously. Residents reported a heavy police presence in the area, including helicopters and search dogs.
The sighting came a day after the pair were reportedly spotted in Steuben County, near the state’s border with Pennsylvania. If the sightings are true, that would mean that Matt and Sweat are moving westward after escaping from the prison in Clinton County.
“Witnesses spotted two men on June 13 walking near the Gang Mills railyard on Rita’s Way in the town of Erwin,” police said. “The next day, two men with the same description were spotted walking along County Route 115 in the town of Lindley, heading toward the Pennsylvania border.”
The search now appears to be converging around the town of Friendship, with police walking along a rail line. A reporter from WIVB in Buffalo tried to enter the town, but was turned away by police who called the area a “hot spot.”
The area is likely very familiar to state police, who nine years ago searched the same area for another escaped inmate. Prisoner Ralph “Bucky” Phillips escaped from a prison in Chautauqua County in April 2006 and eluded police for months, working his way through heavily wooded areas in New York’s Southern Tier. During the search he ambushed two troopers, shooting them both. One was killed and the other seriously injured.
It took police until September before they finally cornered Phillips, who surrendered without incident.
Though reports claimed that Saturday’s sighting was credible, police would not confirm if David Sweat and Richard Matt were spotted in Friendship.
[Image via WHEC]