Prison Break: Manhunt Continues for Escaped Killers

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Two convicted murderers are still on the loose today after escaping a maximum security prison in New York over the weekend. The Upstate facility, only 20 miles from the Canadian border, and more than 250 law enforcement officials are conducting an extensive manhunt.

Prison personnel discovered that convicted killers David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48, were missing around 5:30AM Saturday, June 6.  They were last seen during a headcount on Friday evening. The prison immediately went into lockdown when guards realized that the convicts were gone.

Hundreds of law enforcement officials throughout the United States, Canada, and even Mexico are all on high alert since authorities are unsure as to how far the two men could have gotten since their escape. During the manhunt’s third day, the investigation ramped up with search dogs, roadblocks, and helicopters continuing to comb the area hoping to find clues as to what direction the men are headed.

News that missing escaped killers could be just about anywhere has many people on edge. Both men had been serving lengthy prison sentences for the heinous murders that they committed many years earlier. Sweat was serving a sentence of life without parole for brutally killing a Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy in 2002. Matt was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for kidnapping, killing, and dismembering his former boss in Niagara County in 1997. For Matt, this is actually his second time escaping from prison, as he did it once before in 1986 from Erie County Jail.

This recent escape was very elaborate and well planned, given the prison’s level of security. Many are speculating that the two men had inside help. Sweat and Matt reportedly used power tools to break their way through a steel wall in their cells, then crawled through a catwalk and drilled their way through a brick wall. After that, they cut through a steam pipe, then broke the chain and lock of a manhole cover on the outside of the prison where they were able to flee the premises. The two convicts stuffed their beds with clothes in an attempt to fool the guards that they were sleeping, but decided to leave behind a taunting note on a pipe, which read “have a nice day!”

The Clinton Correctional Facility holds nearly 3,000 inmates and is monitored by approximately 1,400 correctional officers. It is also surrounded by farmland and forest, therefore officials believe that the men likely had help once they got outside of the prison.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said that Sweat and Matt’s escape has created a “crisis situation,” and that New York will provide a $100,000 reward for information leading to their capture. Cuomo believes that the pair definitely had help, although he would be surprised if any corrections officers were discovered to have been involved.

How were these men able to obtain power tools and how is it that none of the guards heard or noticed the escape happening? These are two of the biggest questions surrounding the mystery of this seemingly impossible escape. A female employee of the prison has reportedly been questioned by authorities to determine if she helped the inmates escape, and the New York Post reports that she has already been removed from her position.

Many are saying that Sweat and Matt had to have had help from the inside, especially to gain access to the tools used to break through the walls. All of the employees who work in this section of Clinton Correctional Facility are under extreme scrutiny, as well as many of the contracted workers of the prison. All of the tools that are used by prison employees have so far been accounted for, puzzling law enforcement officials from various agencies working this case. Extensive renovations have been underway in the prison lately, leading some to believe that the men might have gotten the power tools directly from the contracted workers, or perhaps they were left out by accident.

This is the first escape from the prison, which opened in 1845. The layout of the facility is reportedly confusing, so the men would have needed help from someone who worked there or had access to a map in order to execute this escape through the maze of prison tunnels.

Think prison breaks rarely happen? Unbeknownst to most citizens, Sweat and Matt’s escape is one of many that happen in this country–around 2,000 per year to be exact. Prison breaks from maximum security prisons are rare since they require more planning and extra tools, although prisons with minimal security are often plagued by this problem.

The only definite thing known at this point is that two highly dangerous men are at large somewhere in North America, therefore authorities urge all citizens to be extra cautious, especially those near the Clinton Correctional Facility.

Toni Keddell
Toni Keddell is a member of the University of Maryland Class of 2017 and a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Toni at



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