DNA samples from both convicted killers who escaped from a maximum security prison 17 days ago were reportedly found in a remote hunting cabin in New York state.
A potential sighting near a hunting camp yesterday reignited the search for Richard Matt and David Sweat, and terrified an isolated community.
DNA evidence has now confirmed that the men were in fact hiding out in the area, according to US media reports.
A figure was seen running through the woods near the secluded village of Owl's Head in New York state shortly after a hunting cabin was burgled.
Local authorities instantly suspected that the man may be Richard Matt or David Sweat, the subjects of a massive manhunt that is now well into its third week.
Unlike the string of possible sightings that preceded it, this one now appears to have been genuine, and has prompted an all-out response from law enforcement who have flooded into an area roughly 20 miles west of the prison.
Residents were told to stay inside with their doors locked. Many have kept their guns close by as police helicopters buzzed overheard.
Amy Pulsifer, who manages Trailside Bar and Restaurant in Owl's Head, said she was both frightened and excited.
"When it's in your backyard, it's kind of crazy," she told CNN.
The remoteness of the hunting camp, as well as the availability of canned food and other necessities in the cabins, make it an appealing hideout.
The prison seamstress who has admitted to having a sexual relationship with Matt, and is accused of smuggling in tools to aid in the inmates' escape, is in custody.
Prison worker Joyce Mitchell remained in custody on charges she helped the two men escape by providing them with hacksaw blades, chisels and other tools. She has pleaded not guilty.
Officials said a corrections officer also has been placed on administrative leave as part of the investigation into the men's escape.