One of the convicted murderers who escaped from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York three weeks ago is believed to be dead after being shot by law enforcement officers Friday afternoon, the State Police said. 

Richard Matt, 48, was shot and killed in a remote are of Franklin County, The New York Times and The Buffalo News reported. The New York State Police issued a statement saying that law enforcement "spotted a man in a wooded area in the Town of Malone" about 3:45 p.m. and that "a man believed to be" Matt was shot and killed. "A positive identification is still pending," the statement said. 

The other escaped inmate, David Sweat, was still being sought, the police said. The Buffalo News reported that authorities were using dogs to track down Sweat, who may be armed and had been serving a life sentence for slaying a sheriff's deputy in 2002. 

Earlier Friday, authorities had said that the two escaped murderers appeared to be trying to make it to Canada. 

The two escapees had been eluding capture by hiding out in remote woodlands since their escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora was discovered on June 6. The prison is about 20 miles from Canada. 

Matt and Sweat, 35, cut through the steel walls of their adjoining cells, slipped through a steam pipe and emerged from a manhole outside the prison's fortress-like walls. The discovery of the breakout set off a massive three-week manhunt. 

Two prison workers have been charged with assisting the prisoners in their brazen escape. 

One prison worker is accused of bringing hacksaw blades and a screwdriver bit to the inmates, hidden in frozen hamburger meat supplied by a training supervisor in the prison tailor shop. Authorities allege that the woman supplied hacksaw blades and a screwdriver bit to the men, whose previous good behavior landed them on the prison's honor block, allowing them to cook their own meals. 

-- With Reuters