New York police follow leads on escaped prisoners near Pennsylvania border

New York State Police are investigating unconfirmed reports that two killers who escaped from a maximum-security prison were traveling by foot near the New York-Pennsylvania border.

Officials were searching a construction site in the town of Erwin, exploring a railroad line that runs through Allegany County and interviewing residents in several counties along the states’ border, according to the State Police.

Residents called the police after spotting two men who looked like Richard Matt and David Sweat, inmates who were discovered missing on June 6.

All the possible sightings occurred in upstate New York. The first report, of two men walking near a rail yard in Erwin, came June 13.

A day later another witness reported seeing Matt and Sweat walking toward the Pennsylvania border along County Route 115 in the neighboring town of Lindley.

It is unclear why police waited a week to share information about the possible sightings.

A third person called police Saturday after seeing two men on a railroad track in Friendship.

The police found surveillance video of the men, but could not confirm whether they were Matt and Sweat, according to a news release. Officials sent the video to Albany, where investigators will attempt to identify the men.

State police conducted interviews in Erwin and Lindley over the last week, seeking more information to verify the sightings. Although officials have yet to confirm the escapees were in the area, they asked people who live nearby to be alert.

Matt and Sweat cut through their cell walls with power tools and maneuvered through a series of tunnels to flee the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., about 20 miles from the Canadian border.

Matt, 48, was serving a life sentence for torturing, killing and dismembering his former boss. Sweat, 35, was also sentenced to life without parole for killing a Broome County sheriff’s deputy after he was caught trafficking weapons.

A seamstress who worked at the prison was arrested June 12 on suspicion of colluding with the men to help them escape. She plotted with the men to kill her husband before backing out of the escape plan, police said.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said in a statement that a corrections officer at the Clinton facility was put on administrative leave in connection with the escape, but did not provide other details or name the officer.

katie.shepherd@latimes.com

Twitter: @katemshepherd

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

7:47 p.m.: This report has been revised throughout. 

The first version of this report, by the Associated Press, was posted at 12:28 a.m. 

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