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New clues shift manhunt for New York escapees again

Authorities matched the DNA of one of the escapees at a hunting cabin 25 miles away from the prison in the Adirondack woods
New lead in hunt for escaped murderers 01:53

The search for the two escaped New York prisoners is now zeroing in on the Owls Head region of Franklin County N.Y., where DNA found in a cabin has been linked to the fugitives David Sweat and Richard Matt, according to law enforcement officials.

As CBS News' Anna Werner reports, police started searching the area overnight. By dawn, they had fanned out into the woods dotted with cabins used for hunting.

The search follows the discovery of evidence at a hunting cabin deep in the Adirondack woods. The items were found in the last two days, authorities ran tests and got a DNA match to at least one of the escapees.

Potential sighting of escaped N.Y. convicts 01:40

"It is a confirmed lead for us it has generated a mass law enforcement response as you can see and we are going to run this to ground," said New York State Police Major Charles Guess.

The area is about 22 miles from the prison.

Restaurant owner Terry Bellinger told CBS News the man who owns the cabin had reported seeing a man run away. Police interviewed the witness for two hours in Bellinger's restaurant.

"He was shaken up, he said the guy had run off....left behind a jug of water and jar of peanut butter," Bellinger said.

He said cabins here are frequently left unlocked because people here trust each other. The cabins are also used as a refuge for people stranded in the woods, but not for escaped murderers.

In addition, CBS News has confirmed that a second employee at the Clinton Correctional Facility who may also have been involved in the escape plot has been suspended from his job. The employee, identified as Gene Palmer, was questioned by officials over his possible role. Police vehicles were seen parked outside his home Saturday.

Palmer's lawyer, Andrew Brockway, denied his client's involvement, telling CBS Burlington, Vermont affiliate WCAX-TV, "I can 100 percent confirm that he did not know these two people were planning to break out of the prison. They are master manipulators. They are obviously in prison for life so they have nothing but time to take advantage of innocent people."

Another employee, Joyce Mitchell, faces charges of aiding Sweat and Matt.

David Sweat, left, and Richard Matt are seen in this combination of photos provided by New York State Police on June 6, 2015
David Sweat, left, and Richard Matt are seen in this combination of photos provided by New York State Police on June 6, 2015 New York State Police

State police set up a command center in Owls Head, New York, some 25 miles from the prison, to pursue the latest lead.

The police presence in the area increased dramatically overnight, Werner says. Uniformed officers and military trucks could be seen blocking roadways and searching vehicles.

The search for the prisoners is now entering its 16th day.

The new lead comes a day after police moved into parts of Allegany County, in western New York along the Pennsylvania border, after a woman claimed to have seen two men matching the escapees' descriptions walking near railroad tracks close to her home.

More than 300 officers were deployed to the town of Friendship, New York, setting up roadblocks and conducting door-to-door searches.

After nearly 36 hours, the lead turned up empty and the search was called off.

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