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Search for two killers has shifted to undisclosed areas

The search for escaped killers Richard Matt and David Sweat has shifted and expanded to other areas, but authorities aren’t saying where.

During a noon news conference Wednesday in Plattsburgh, State Police and Clinton County Sheriff’s Office officials said the search that began June 6 has covered 16 square miles – or more than 10,000 acres.

“We have no information that they have been able to leave the area,” said Capt. Robert LaFountain of the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. ”We are going to locate the individuals and they will be apprehended.”

State Police said more than 1,400 leads are being developed in the search for Richard Matt and Sweat.

Early on, the search shifted from the area surrounding Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora to the Town of Willsboro, a small town approximately 40 miles to the southeast, after someone spotted two men walking along a road during a rainstorm.

More recently, the focus was back on Dannemora and the neighboring community of Cadyville.

The police perimeter and roadblocks in the area have been lifted, but road patrols have been quadrupled, according to Major Charles E. Guess, Troop B commander for State Police. The portion of Route 374 in Cadyville that had been closed also has reopened.

But law enforcement officials refused to identify the new search area.

“These people watch the news ... We’re not going to tip our hand as to where we’re looking,” one said.

Shifting the area also has reduced the amount of manpower by about 200, although K-9 and aviation units will remain part of the search, officials said.

Though Wednesday’s gathering ostensible was a news conference, Clinton County Sheriff David Favro referred to it as a “pep rally.”

“We still need to stay motivated,” Favro said.

Joyce Mitchell, 51, of Dickinson Center, a tailoring instructor at the prison, has been accused of aiding in their escape. She was charged with

a felony count of promoting prison contraband and a misdemeanor count of criminal facilitation; she’s in custody in Rensselaer County Jail.