PRISON BREAK: Area on alert for 2 killers

Elodie Reed

By Elodie Reed

Staff Writer

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Police remain vigilant

ST. ALBANS — As the week-long search for two convicted killers continues in northern New York, local law enforcement authorities are remaining vigilant.

Vermont State Police, St. Albans Police Department and the U.S. Border Patrol Swanton Sector (see accompanying story) have been active in patrolling and searching among the Champlain islands, at the Canadian border and across the Champlain Valley. They are looking for Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, who escaped from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. last weekend using power tools.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has held press conferences in both New York and Vermont this week on the incident after released information indicated the two men originally planned to head to Vermont. There is no evidence to suggest the two men followed through with this plan, but Shumlin has warned Vermonters to remain vigilant due to the dangerous nature of Matt and Sweat, who have both been convicted of murder.

“In the coming days, Vermonters should expect a heightened police presence throughout the state, specifically in areas in close proximity to the Lake Champlain,” Shumlin said in a press release this morning.

As of Wednesday, Vermont State Police patrols were increased on land and water, up to 100 troopers were made available for action if needed, fliers with photos of the two men were distributed, and troopers began checking seasonal camps for any suspicious activity.

Shumlin said, “There is still no indication that the prisoners who escaped are in Vermont, and Vermonters should not be alarmed by the heightened law enforcement activity. We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure public safety.”

Thursday, VSP marine patrols were visible in St. Albans Bay, and SAPD officers patrolled along Hathaway Point and Lapan Bay. As of press time this morning, Lt. John Flannigan of the St. Albans VSP barracks said little has shifted since Shumlin’s original announcement.

“Nothing’s really changed for us in the last 48 hours,” Flannigan said. He added that troopers are continuing to patrol among the Champlain Islands and across the Champlain Valley.

VSP spokesman Scott Waterman said troopers are focusing on informing as many people as they can about the situation, and getting to the people they haven’t spoken to yet.

VSP troopers have arrested one person in connection with the escaped men after a someone called police and said that his girlfriend allowed Matt and Sweat to stay in their basement, though that ended up not being the case. Richard Baldwin, 49, of Waterbury was arrested just after 6:30 last night for providing false reports, and, due to being heavily intoxicated, Baldwin was lodged at the Barre City Police Department Jail.

In the Franklin County area, Lt. Ron Hoague of the SAPD said local police are continuing the work they did yesterday. “We don’t have anything new this morning,” he said.

Hoague indicated that officers were still patrolling in lakeshore areas and looking for any suspicious activity.

“We’re still going to continue our patrol here for the next few days,” he said.

The SAPD is also encouraging residents to report any suspicious activity, and Hoague said Thursday two officers would be sent out to those calls.

The Messenger has not received any response from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office following several phone calls regarding the situation, and the Swanton Police Department declined to comment and referred the newspaper to the Vermont Department of Public Safety.