Dangerous murderers on run fourth day from US jail
Two dangerous American fugitives eluded capture Tuesday for a fourth day after escaping from a maximum security jail, one of whom murdered and dismembered his elderly boss, while the other killed a sheriff’s deputy.
Richard Matt, 49, and David Sweat, 35, are the targets of an international manhunt after using power tools to cut through walls at the Clinton Correctional Facility in the small town of Dannemora in New York state.
Officials say the men are violent and vicious, raising fears that the longer they remain on the run the higher the risk to members of the public, either at home or possibly across the border in Mexico or Canada.
Matt, six feet tall with multiple tattoos, is serving a 25-year to life sentence for the 1997 kidnapping and dismembering of his former boss, 76-year-old William Rickerson, in a horrifying 27-hour ordeal.
Matt reportedly hit his victim, bound him with duct tape and threw him into the trunk of a car. He then beat and assaulted the elderly man multiple times before twisting his neck, and fleeing to Mexico.
There he killed an American and was sentenced to 20 years, before being extradited back to New York state in 2007.
Before killing Rickerson, he had served time for rape and stabbing a nurse, in separate cases.
Although no one had previously escaped from the maximum security portion of the prison at Dannemora, it is Matt’s second jail break.
In 1986, he spent four days on the run from Erie County Jail, where he was serving time for assault.
Sweat was serving a life sentence without parole for murdering a sheriff’s deputy in New York state in 2002 when he was 22 years old.
He and two accomplices were sharing out a cache of stolen weapons, when the deputy approached them. Sweat and an accomplice shot him multiple times and reportedly drove over him with a car.
As a teenager, Sweat was also charged with attempted second-degree burglary and burglary in two separate incidents.
– ‘Lucky to be alive’ –
Matt has multiple tattoos — including a Marine Corps insignia on his right shoulder and one on his back with the words “Mexico Forever.”
Sweat has tattoos on his left bicep and his right fingers.
The pair, who were reported to enjoy special privileges in jail for good behavior, escaped before dawn Saturday in a conspiracy likened to Hollywood movies such as “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Escape from Alcatraz.”
They cut through the walls of their cells with power tools, then crawled to freedom through an underground pipe system, coming up through a manhole and leaving behind a taunting note saying “Have a Nice Day” next to a toothy grin.
Police backed by sniffer dogs and helicopters have scoured the area, setting up roadblocks and alerting officials on the Mexican and Canadian borders, but admit they have no idea where they are.
Two local residents claim they confronted the felons shortly at around 12:30 am Saturday.
One had a buzz cut and wore a white T-shirt with a black guitar case slung over his shoulder, one of the witnesses told ABC News.
“I go look at him and I ask him ‘what the hell are you doing in my yard, get the hell out of here.’ And he was like, ‘sorry, I didn’t know where I was. I’m on the wrong street,'” the witness said.
“Lucky to be alive, man,” said his female friend when asked how she felt.
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo described the pair as “truly dangerous, desperate men” whose escape “could have been a movie script.”
Cuomo said he believed they had help, “primarily from the inside” and US media have reported that a female prison worker has been questioned, although not charged in connection with the investigation.
“I’d be shocked if a corrections guard was involved in this but … they couldn’t have done this on their own,” Cuomo told NBC television.
A $100,000 reward for information has led to 300 leads, which state police told AFP that more than 250 officers and the FBI were chasing down.
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