FRIENDSHIP, NY — DNA from New York prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat has been found inside a burglarized cabin in upstate New York, a law enforcement source told CNN.
The discovery has re-energized the two-week-old search for the convicted killers, who staged a movie script-worthy escape from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6 and haven’t been seen since — at least not by authorities.
However, a witness on Saturday spotted someone running into the woods near a cabin in the Mountain View community, only 20 miles from the prison, according to acting Franklin County District Attorney Glenn MacNeill.
Investigators think the figure spotted Saturday could have been one of the fugitive prisoners, MacNeill said.
Since then, law enforcement authorities have flooded the rural community, swooping in on helicopters, cruisers and all-terrain vehicles to scour the region for the men. More state and federal teams are to be redeployed on Monday, the law enforcement source told CNN.
Briefing reporters Monday, New York State Police Maj. Charles Guess declined to get into specifics about what was found at the cabin for fear of jeopardizing the search.
“It’s a confirmed lead for us,” he said. “It has generated a massive law enforcement response, as you can see, and we’re going to run this to ground.”
The break-in suggests the men “need provisions and are desperate,” a law enforcement source briefed on the investigation told CNN’s Deborah Feyerick.
There’s no evidence the fugitives have the kind of support network they would need to get away from the prison after their plan to get a ride from prison tailor Joyce Mitchell fell apart, the source said.
Searchers are now working to contain the two men in the area, knowing they are running and on foot, the source said.
Authorities also are concerned that Matt and Sweat may be monitoring radio communications, the source said, without being specific on whether the men have radios or similar devices giving them the ability to monitor police communications.
Regardless, the sighting and DNA discovery explain the sudden shift in the search from an area near New York’s border with Pennsylvania, some 260 miles to the southwest of the prison, where much of the weekend search had focused after somebody reported a possible sighting of the two fugitives.
That search wrapped up late Sunday, New York State Police said.
MacNeill urged residents in Franklin County to be alert for potential danger during the search for the escaped killers, whom authorities described last week as posing a “significant threat to anyone who may come into contact with them.”
“Be inside with the doors locked and very diligent,” MacNeill warned residents.