Lo­cals weary as man­hunt goes on

As author­i­ties search for es­caped killer David Sweat, many peo­ple are ready to get back to nor­mal.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Vera Haller Haller is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

MALONE, N.Y. — A dan­ger­ous es­caped mur­derer could be on the loose some­where near this iso­lated town, but res­i­dents say they have grown weary of the in­tense man­hunt that is con­sum­ing daily life.

Hun­dreds of law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing state troop­ers and U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol agents, combed through thick woodlands Satur­day look­ing for David Sweat, who, along with fel­low con­victed killer Richard Matt, es­caped weeks ago from a max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison about 40 miles east.

“It’s def­i­nitely the buzz,” said Brent Su­per­nault, a Malone res­i­dent and the gen­eral man­ager of Adiron­dack Hard­ware. “Usu­ally, ev­ery­body comes in here and talks about the weather. Now, they talk about the killers.”

Matt, 48, and Sweat, 35, are said to have tricked cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers at the Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in Dan­nemora by mak­ing dum­mies and stuff­ing them into their beds the night they fled. They were dis­cov­ered miss­ing June 6 at a 5:30 a.m. bed check.

Author­i­ties say the men used power tools to cut through me­tal and brick walls and pipes, then made their way via un­der­ground tun­nels and pipes to a man­hole a few hun­dred feet from the prison walls.

Two prison em­ploy­ees have been ar­rested — one on sus­pi­cion of smug­gling hack­saw blades and other tools to the in­mates, the other on sus­pi­cion of pro­mot­ing prison con­tra­band and tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Ju­lia Holmes, 75, a coowner of North of Adiron­dack Artists gallery, de­scribed the scene in Malone af­ter Matt was dis­cov­ered in the nearby woods on Fri­day.

“State trooper [cruis­ers] were pour­ing out into the streets like some­one had opened a fun­nel, and they just kept com­ing,” Holmes said.

That evening, while driv­ing to an event in Platts­burgh, about 50 miles south­east, she pulled over to let a con­voy of state troop­ers pass and counted 60 ve­hi­cles, she said.

Matt was shot dead when he ig­nored com­mands to drop a weapon, author­i­ties say. It was un­clear whether he and Sweat had re­mained to­gether, but author­i­ties said they had no ev­i­dence the pair had split up.

Holmes, a widow who lives alone, said af­ter their es­cape she had wor­ried about her safety, know­ing the fugi­tives could be close by. But now, she just wants to get on with her life.

“At first, I was lock­ing ev­ery­thing, my house, but then I thought, if some­one wants to get in, they’ll get in,” said Holmes, whose house abuts a wooded area.

“I’m not go­ing to let it take over my life any­more. To live in fear is not a healthy thing,” Holmes said.

Sweat was serv­ing a sen­tence of life with­out pa­role for killing a sher­iff ’s deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serv­ing 25 years to life for killing and dis­mem­ber­ing his for­mer boss.

On Satur­day, in­ves­ti­ga­tors iden­ti­fied a 22-squaremile area where Sweat could be hid­ing, be­tween Malone and the town of Duane, 18 miles to the south. State po­lice set up a road­block on Route 30 out­side Malone, stop­ping all unof­fi­cial cars from en­ter­ing the search area.

Su­per­nault, of Adiron­dack Hard­ware, said since the killers’ es­cape he has been help­ing cus­tomers make keys for their homes. In Malone, a town of 14,000 about 14 miles south of the Cana­dian bor­der, res­i­dents do not usu­ally lock their doors.

“That’s just not com­mon around here,” he said. “All of a sud­den, ev­ery­one wants to lock up and they don’t have keys.”

One pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment for Malone has been an uptick in busi­ness.

Lynn Hosler, owner of Hosler Fam­ily Res­tau­rant, said she wel­comed the ex­tra cus­tomers. Ho­tels and mo­tels are all booked too, she said. “That never hap­pens.”

In Platts­burgh, an overnight ho­tel clerk said Duane “Dog” Chap­man, of tele­vi­sion’s “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” came by around 2 a.m. Satur­day in search of a room — with­out suc­cess.

A tele­vi­sion bounty hunter’s ar­rival might be a stranger-than-fic­tion turn of events, but Holmes said the re­al­ity of the past few weeks has been strange enough.

“This is turn­ing into a TV show, but it’s sur­real be­cause I’m in it,” she said.

New York State Po­lice

DAVID SWEAT is thought to be hid­ing near where fel­low es­capee Richard Matt was shot.

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