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DANNEMORA, New York — As the massive manhunt for two escaped murderers entered a fourth day, investigators were simultaneously searching for answers on how the duo brazenly broke out of maximum-security prison.
There has been no sign of Richard Matt and David Sweat since they were reported missing on Saturday. Investigators say they used power tools to cut through brick and metal walls and pipes before breaking through a manhole to freedom. Hundreds of law-enforcement officers have fanned out across the area as part of a multi-agency manhunt, and New York State has offered a $100,000 reward leading to the convicts' capture.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told NBC's TODAY that the men "definitely had help" making their escape.
State police reports confirmed that Joyce Mitchell, a who works in the prison tailor shop as a teacher or instructor, is a person of interest and has been questioned. Matt and Sweat worked in the shop, where they made Metro-North railroad uniforms, and that appeared to be how they made contact with Mitchell.
On the day of the escape, police say, Mitchell had “a case of nerves” and checked herself into the local hospital.
Questions also have been raised over how the duo managed to carry out their elaborate plan without tipping off other inmates or guards. One former inmate at the maximum-security lock-up told NBC News that the prisoners were under incredibly close watch.
"It's most definitely tight security, very tight movement as far as when you're allowed out of your cell," said Jeffrey Getman, who spent four years at the prison. "You're watched pretty much all the time."
While Cuomo sarcastically suggested the other inmates were "all heavy sleepers," State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell said fear might have played a role. Reporting suspicions "will get you killed — that's the kind of environment it is," he told The Associated Press.
Authorities have said the two killers could be "anywhere" — and were working furiously to chase down approximately 300 leads which have been reported.
Amid the possibility the escaped convicts could have crossed into Canada — whose border lies not far from the prison — the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency set up outbound inspection lanes at the border and told NBC News that agents were at a "heightened state of awareness."
Meanwhile, two law enforcement sources told NBC affiliate WPTZ they believe that a getaway car either arrived too early, too late or not at all — leading police to believe the escaped convicts were on foot.
The escape was the first from the maximum-security portion of Clinton Correctional Facility — but not the only time Matt had broken out of jail. The 49-year-old escaped county jail back in 1986 by scaling a fence topped with razor wire, according to Buffalo News.
At the time of his escape from Clinton Correctional Facility, he was serving a sentence of 25-to-life for the kidnapping, beating death and dismembering of his former boss. Sweat, 35, was serving a life sentence without parole for killing a sheriff's deputy.