Police offer $100K reward for information leading to escaped N.Y. killers

Police say prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat used power tools to cut through a steel wall, a steam pipe, a brick wall and a locked manhole cover to successfully escape.

By Doug G. Ware
Authorities hold a news conference to discuss the escape of convicted killers David Sweat (left on poster) and Richard Matt, Saturday, June 6, 2015. Photo: New York Governor's Office / Flickr
1 of 8 | Authorities hold a news conference to discuss the escape of convicted killers David Sweat (left on poster) and Richard Matt, Saturday, June 6, 2015. Photo: New York Governor's Office / Flickr

NEW YORK, June 7 (UPI) -- The state of New York on Sunday announced a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the capture of two convicted murderers who escaped from a maximum security prison this weekend.

Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, just south of the Canadian border, on Saturday morning. Authorities said they used power tools to cut their way through steel walls, bars and masonry bricks to gain their freedom.


Before they departed, officials said, the convicted killers left behind a card that said "have a nice day" to taunt prison guards.

A manhunt for the pair was launched immediately, as officials believe the two men are very resourceful and could be literally anywhere by this point.

Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a reward of $50,000 for each of the prisoners' capture.


Sweat, 34, is serving a life sentence for killing a sheriff's deputy in 2002. Matt, 48, is serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and beating a man to death in 1997.

"These are dangerous men," Gov. Cuomo said, adding that they are "capable of committing grave crimes once again."

Investigators are also trying to determine how the men's plan to escape from a maximum security facility was successful -- especially because they needed power tools for the job, which no inmates ever have in their private possession. It appears that the prisoners had help -- and possibly plenty of it, officials believe.

Police say to escape, the men had to cut through a steel wall at the back of their cells, crawl down a catwalk, break through a brick wall, cut their way into and out of a steam pipe, and then slice through a chain and a lock on a manhole cover outside the prison, the Washington Post reported.

Gov. Cuomo visited the prison on Saturday and documented the route the escaped prisoners took with photographs, which were posted to his office's Flickr page.

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Officials believe the men got the power tools from inside the prison, although an inventory of all the facility's tools turned up none missing. Police also believe the fugitives may have had help on the outside -- perhaps someone waiting to drive them away upon their escape.


"It was a sophisticated plan," Gov. Cuomo said. "It took a period of time, no doubt, to execute."

The prison is located in Dannemora, N.Y., about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, but officials said they could be anywhere. Gov. Cuomo urged the public not to approach the fugitives themselves, but to call police immediately.

"There's never been a question about the crimes they committed. They are now on the loose, and our first order of business is apprehending them," he said.

Investigators said they have so far received more than 150 potential leads. Police used dozens of officers, bloodhounds and a helicopter to search for the escaped cons. Authorities said it is possible the men crossed over into Canada -- which would make finding and capturing them more difficult.

Officials don't know yet exactly when Sweat and Matt left the facility's grounds. Saturday morning, guards discovered clothing stuffed into their bedding to make it appear like someone was sleeping in them., the Post report said.

Some officials said the jailbreak reminded them of the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption -- in which a prisoner played by actor Tim Robbins elaborately digs his way out of prison over a period of two decades, ultimately emerging from a sewage pipe that drained into a ditch off prison grounds.


In the movie, Robbins' character also leaves behind a taunting note for the prison's warden in his bible.

Before Saturday, no one had ever escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility's entire 150-year history.

The brother of sheriff's Deputy Kevin Tarsia, who was killed by Sweat in 2002, said he was shocked to learn of the killers' escape. In fact, the Post report said, he had just gotten to the point of forgetting Sweat's name when the escape made headlines this weekend.

"All of a sudden, I remember them again," Steven Tarsia said.

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