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Search for Killers Who Broke Out of Prison With Power Tools Focuses on Town 30 Miles Away

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In this handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown in this composite image. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from a maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by New York State Police via Getty Images)

WILLSBORO, N.Y. (TheBlaze/AP) -- With police helicopters hovering overhead, hundreds of law officers in body armor poured into this small town in the Adirondack Mountains on Tuesday in a search for two killers who used power tools to break out of a maximum-security prison 30 miles away.

In this handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown i n this composite image. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by New York State Police via Getty Images)

The hunt that began over the weekend focused on Willsboro, close to Lake Champlain, after residents reported seeing a couple of men walking on a road late Monday during a driving rainstorm.

Hundreds of black-clad searchers wearing bulletproof vests and sidearms methodically worked their way shoulder-to-shoulder in the rain through hilly woods, fields and swamps, checking every home, garage, shed and outbuilding, then yelling clear when there were no signs of the inmates.

By early evening, it appeared the sweep had come up empty, and there was no confirmation from police that the escaped convicts had been there.

Authorities have fielded numerous tips since the breakout from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, close to the Canadian border, but appeared to have jumped hardest on this one.

David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48, cut through a steel wall, broke through bricks and crawled through a steam pipe before emerging through a manhole outside the prison grounds.

In this handout from the New York State Governor's Office, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shown the escape path where two convicted murderers fled from the Clinton Correctional Facility June 6, 2014 in Dannemora, New York. Police are on a manhunt for Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, who escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole. (Photo by Darren McGee/New York State Governor's Office via Getty Images)

They were discovered missing early Saturday after stuffing their beds with clothes to fool guards on their rounds and leaving behind a taunting note: "Have a nice day."

Given the meticulous planning that went into the breakout itself, there was speculation that the inmates had lined up a ride for themselves outside the prison and were long gone from the area. On Monday, authorities said the inmates could be anywhere - perhaps Canada or Mexico.

On Tuesday, Willsboro dairy farmer George Sayward said he saw troopers parked next to his barn around 5 a.m., and they told him they were there because of a possible sighting of the convicts. Around 7 a.m., Sayward said, he heard one trooper tell another to call in 100 more men.

"The next thing I know, there were a ton of them, by the busload," Sayward said.

State Police said more than 400 corrections and other law enforcement officers were in the area and planned to go door to door, checking homes and seasonal camps.

The escape from the 3,000-inmate state prison immediately raised suspicions the men had help on the inside.

Joyce Mitchell (Image source: Facebook via NBC News)

Investigators have been questioning prison workers and outside contractors to try to find out who may have supplied the power tools. Contractors have been doing extensive renovations at the 170-year-old prison, a hulking, fortress-like structure that looms over Dannemora's main street.

One of the prison workers police have questioned is Joyce Mitchell. Mitchell is employed by the prison as a civilian instructor inside the tailor shop where Sweat and Matt worked as inmates.

According to NBC News, Mitchell checked herself into a hospital on Saturday – the same day the prisoners were reported as missing – with "a case of nerves." Mitchell's son, Tobey Mitchell, said he hasn't talked to his parents since then and didn't know exactly why his mother went to the hospital but did say she was having "severe chest pains."

"She's very nervous. She's a very nervous person," Tobey Mitchell said.

A $100,000 reward was posted over the weekend for information leading to the men's capture.

Sweat was convicted in the 2002 killing of a sheriff's deputy and was doing life without parole. Matt was serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and dismembering his boss in 1997.

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