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Upstate New York cabin yields new clues in hunt for escaped convicts

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New York State Police/AP/File

(Read caption) At left, in a May 21 photo released by the New York State Police is David Sweat. At right, in a May 20 photo released by the New York State Police is Richard Matt.

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The hunt for two escaped convicts has led authorities to a burglarized cabin in upstate New York, where officials say they have found items that may be linked to the inmates, according to reports.

The cabin is located near a hamlet about 20 miles west of the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., from which David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped on June 6. The items had been sent to laboratories for DNA testing to see if they are connected to either Mr. Sweat or Mr. Matt, state police Maj. Charles Guess said in a noontime conference on Monday.

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Major Guess declined to comment on the DNA results, nor did he reveal what the items were.

“We have recovered specific items from that cabin. We have forwarded them to the appropriate labs. We have come to a conclusive determination, but we are not prepared to release that information,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“This is a confirmed lead for us,” Guess added. “We’re going to run this to the ground.”

Law enforcement officials converged on the area late Sunday, after the cabin’s owner reported seeing a man fleeing into the woods in the Adirondack Mountains. Previously, authorities had investigated a tip about two men who looked like Sweat and Matt at a railroad track in the town of Friendship, N.Y., near the Pennsylvania border, about 350 miles away from the current search area.

State police said Sunday that they will continue to follow leads and tips, though their primary focus will be Dannemora and its immediate surroundings.

Hundreds of law enforcement authorities have searched campsites, houses, and wooded areas surrounding the prison since the convicts’ escape, to no avail.

The US Marshal Service last week placed the two fugitives on their 15 Most Wanted list and offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to their capture. New York state police has also offered a $50,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest of either fugitive, and $100,000 for both.

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Officials have asked residents to remain vigilant and warned that the two men are “very dangerous.” Sweat was serving a life sentence without parole for killing a sheriff's deputy, while Matt was serving 25 years to life for the 1997 kidnapping, torture, and murder of his former boss.

At Monday’s news conference, Guess urged locals to be on alert and report any suspicious activity, Newsweek reported. “No lead is too small for us to investigate,” he said.