Desperate, dangerous murderers on run from US jail
Two American fugitives on the run four days since escaping a maximum security jail are described as “dangerous, desperate” murderers — one kidnapped and beat his elderly boss to death, and the other killed a sheriff’s deputy.
Richard Matt, 49, and David Sweat, 35, are the objects of an international manhunt after using power tools to cut through the walls at the Clinton Correctional Facility in the small town of Dannemora in New York state.
Officials portray them as violent and vicious, raising fears that the longer they are 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 foot tall with multiple tattoos, is serving a 25-year to life sentence for the 1997 kidnapping, dismembering and murder 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 served time for rape and stabbing a nurse.
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.
– Dangerous, desperate men –
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 busted out of prison sometime before 5:30 am Saturday in a conspiracy that has been likened to Hollywood movies “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Escape from Alcatraz.”
They cut through the walls, 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 there has been no trace of the two men.
“They are truly dangerous, desperate men,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, adding that he believed they had help, “primarily from the inside.”
“We are going through the civilian employees and the private contractors first. I’d be shocked if a corrections guard was involved in this but … they couldn’t have done this on their own,” he told NBC television.
“Even from the equipment point of view. It took days to accomplish this. It really could have been a movie script,” said Cuomo on Monday.
US media reported that a female prison worker was questioned by police and removed from her post in connection with the investigation.
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.
“There’s still like a lot of kids that are still playing outside even though they were told to stay inside and if they’re murderers, what makes the kids think that they’re not going to care about running up and snatching a kid or something?” local resident Josh Secore told North Country Public Radio.
Sweat had been at the prison since 2003, and Matt arrived in 2008
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