Inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat have set the record for the longest jailbreak in New York history after escaping from a maximum security prison over the weekend. (Reuters)

The manhunt for two convicted killers who made a brazen escape from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York continues to grow, with more law enforcement personnel joining the search that has spread across state lines.

More than 450 agents are searching for fugitives Richard Matt and David Sweat, according to New York State Police, who are now coordinating with officials in neighboring Vermont. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, have been on the run since they used power tools to break out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., on Friday night or early Saturday morning.

“We have information that suggests that they thought New York was going to be hot, Vermont would be cooler, in terms of law enforcement, and that a camp in Vermont might be a better place to be than New York,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) said at a press conference Wednesday.

[Tim Robbins has had enough of your ‘Shawshank’ prison-escape comparisons]

Vermont State Police took pains to remind the public “that there has been NO SIGHTING of the pair in Vermont” and promised, in a news release, that law enforcement in the Green Mountain State “will be vigilant in apprehending the subjects BEFORE they enter Vermont.”

State officials say they have reason to believe the two inmates who escaped from a New York maximum security prison might be hiding out in Vermont. (Reuters)

Law enforcement agents in New York have been going door to door in the area around the prison, as well, as the manhunt continues.

“We need to find these escapees,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said at Wednesday’s press conference. “They are dangerous men, they are killers. They are murderers. There’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t do it again. They’re going to be more desperate than ever.”

The Saranac Central School District in Dannemora closed Thursday “to assist law enforcement personnel with their search efforts,” superintendent Jonathan Parks said on the district’s Web site. And New York State Police have closed Route 374, east of Dannemora, “to investigate a lead involving the escapees.”

In all, more than 500 leads have been generated since prison officials discovered Saturday that Matt and Sweat were missing.

The two men used power tools to drill through the prison’s steel walls and pipes, then crawled to their freedom through tunnels, popping out of a manhole in a nearby neighborhood. They left behind decoy dummies as well as a note taunting prison officials.

Authorities discovered that their adjoining cells were empty during a morning check at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, at which point officials immediately locked down the prison and began investigating the men’s disappearance.

[How to escape a maximum security prison]

It was the first time anyone had escaped from the maximum-security portion of the institution, which has been open since 1865 and is known as “Little Siberia” because of its isolated location and the region’s harsh winters.

It is now the longest jailbreak in New York history, Reuters reported.
The longest previous escape from a New York prison lasted just three days, according to data from the New York Department of Corrections. In the last decade, freedom lasted less than six hours for 60 percent of the 30 inmates who succeeded in breaking out.

“We don’t know that they’ve left the state or left the area,” New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said at a Wednesday news conference, the Burlington Free Press reported.

The newspaper noted the prison facility is located about 20 miles from a dock, where passengers are shuttled by ferry out of New York state and into Vermont.

“They could have had a pretty good lead on us,” D’Amico told reporters, according to the Free Press.

Officials are also looking into how the prison break occurred, including whether the escaped inmates had any assistance.

Among those interviewed by authorities was a prison worker named Joyce Mitchell, a law enforcement source confirmed to The Washington Post earlier this week. A New York Post report described Mitchell as training supervisor at the prison whose work with those housed there included tailoring instruction.

Cuomo has announced a $100,000 reward for information that would help investigators capture the inmates.

“I’m confident we will find them,” Cuomo said at Wednesday’s press conference. “The only question is when.”

Police are going door to door in the neighborhood surrounding the Clinton Correctional facility in Dannemora, N.Y., refocusing their search in the area as the manhunt enters its fifth day. (AP)

A previous version of this post incorrectly listed Gov. Peter Shumlin’s party affiliation. The post has been updated.

J. Freedom du Lac is the editor of The Post's general assignment news desk. He was previously a Local enterprise reporter and, before that, the paper’s pop music critic.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.