As the manhunt for two escaped prisoners escalates, authorities focused their search to a small town in upstate New York, where bloodhounds picked up on a strong scent leading to the convicted murderers Thursday, according to Fox News.
The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have turned to Cadyville, N.Y., located five miles away from the maximum-security prison where the 48-year-old Richard Matt and 34-year-old David Sweat escaped. Police findings reportedly track the inmates to be near Kennedy and Bart Merrill roads.
While 300 officers continue to investigate the swampy areas, Homeland Security has urged Cadyville residents to stay in their homes, lock their doors and turn on their outside lights, the Press-Republican newspaper reports. Saranac Central School closed down for the day, as well.
“Best lead by far. We are close. This could be it,” police sources told the newspaper Thursday morning.
Although authorities say their lead is strong, they continue to investigate other areas that have reported sightings of descriptions matching to Matt and Sweat. An earlier account led police to Philadelphia, where a cab driver said that he might have driven the escapees downtown to an Amtrak station at 4:15 a.m. Thursday morning.
Investigators reviewed surveillance videos and said that they did not believe the men in the cab were the convicts, reminding police that a strong lead is not conclusive. (RELATED: Philly Cabbie Thinks He Might Have Picked Up Prison Escapees)
Willsboro, another area believed to have held the criminals, went under investigation Wednesday night. The operation closed down roads, backing up traffic on Route 374 until the morning.
“There are so many places they could be. There are a lot of camps that aren’t open yet (that) they could be in and no one would know,” John St. Germaine said, a resident of Trudeau Road, which has been another area of focus.
Germaine told officers that search helicopters were in the air all night.
The newest area of investigation in Plattsburgh is an extremely difficult terrain thick with trees and brush, waist-deep swampland and potential quicksand.
About a half-mile south of Route 374, Kellie Briquer said she spent the night at her neighbors with her two children while her husband was away at work.
“I didn’t want to leave my neighbor alone with two kids,” Briquer said.
Although local residents are keeping their breath held until the search is over, high police surveillance and security and other law-enforcement personnel provide comfort to the immediate area.
“These men are working 24 hours a day to protect everybody. I do feel safe in that, yes I do,” she said.