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Vermont May Be A Destination For Dannemora Escapees

Seth Wenig
Law enforcement officers walk the streets in Dannemora, N.Y. on Wednesday as the search for two escaped inmates from Clinton Correctional Facilities continues into day five. Authorities believe the men may have planned to flee to a camp in Vermont.

Authorities investigating the escape of two convicted murderers from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. this weekend believe the men might have planned to flee to Vermont.

Gov. Peter Shumlin joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a press conference in Dannemora on Wednesday to outline the steps Vermont law enforcement is taking to collaborate with New York officials in the search for the escapees, Richard Matt and David Sweat.

"Gov. Cuomo called me this morning and informed me that although we don't know where they are or where they've gone, that there's some indication that one of their destinations — the destination they might have indicated — was the state of Vermont," Shumlin said. "So we have taken a number of actions together to ensure that our law enforcement community has no obstacles to apprehending these two criminals."

According to Shumlin, Vermont officials have taken the following steps:

  • A Vermont State Police liaison is at the command post in New York to facilitate information sharing between law enforcement in both states.
  • The Vermont State Police Tactical Team is ready to respond to all available tips from the public.
  • Officials have launched a public awareness campaign in state parks, campgrounds and other areas they think the convicts may go.
  • Vermont State Police marine units are deployed on Lake Champlain to assist with the search.
  • Vermont State Police are conducting patrols along lake borders.
  • The Vermont Intelligence Center is in direct contact with the New York State Intelligence Center to share any information that may be helpful in the search.

Meanwhile, the manhunt intensified today in the neighborhoods right near the prison walls. Zach Hirsch, Plattsburgh correspondent for North Country Public Radio, has been reporting in Dannemora and joined VPR to share his observations.
On what things look like in Dannemora

"Since the weekend, people have really been on high alert, especially the police. There are lots of road blocks where the state troopers and corrections officers who work at the prison are searching cars. And at pretty much every checkpoint, you’ll see at least one person with a big shotgun.

Credit Seth Wenig / AP
At a press conference in Dannemora, N.Y. with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and law enforcement officials, Gov. Peter Shumlin urged Vermonters to be sensible and not to panic.

"And the thing that’s different about today is that police are really retracing their steps right here in Dannemora. Big crews of officers are going door to door with guns drawn, asking questions and searching buildings. Local residents I’m speaking with say there already was some door-to-door searching on Saturday, but now the search has really intensified, and they’re really checking everywhere. But police say this is not because there’s a new lead in Dannemora. They’re just going over the area again, for the sake of being thorough."

On the manhunt in Willsboro, N.Y. Tuesday

"The images were definitely a little scary out of Willsboro. More than 400 officers descended on Willsboro. They trekked through wooded areas and neighborhoods with guns drawn and helicopters flying overhead. There were a lot of rumors going around – some news outlets even reported that the two escapees were cornered in Willsboro, but that turned out not to be the case. So far state police haven’t confirmed any sightings of the two men."

On the mood among New York residents

"People are definitely apprehensive. Residents right here in Dannemora that I’ve spoken with do say they have a lot of faith in the police, but yeah, people are still nervous. Some school districts on this side of Lake Champlain have decided to suspend outdoor activities for kids. And something I keep hearing people saying is that Matt and Sweat – the two escapees – must be long gone by now. But of course we’ve got this intensified search going on here in Dannemora, and state officials are emphasizing that they really could be anywhere, and they want people to stay on high alert. And people are definitely taking that into consideration today."

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
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