Update: David Sweat Shot and Captured Alive by Cops, Richard Matt Shot Dead

June 26, 2015
By: Michelle Sigona

Photo by: New York State Police

New York State Police

UPDATE, June 29, 2015, 9 am:

David Sweat, the second fugitive prison escapee, was captured alive after being shot by police yesterday 2 miles from the Canadian border.

UPDATE, June 26, 2015, 5:15 pm:

Richard Matt has reportedly been shot dead by police. CNN reports that the other escaped killer, David Sweat, is still being pursued by police.

Earlier Update, June 26, 2015:

More DNA from escaped killers Richard Matt and David Sweat has turned up. This time it’s Matt’s, and it was found in a cabin in upstate Malone, NY. According to NY Post, the cabin “showed no signs of intrusion.”

Since their masterful June 6 escape, investigators have been hunting the two escaped convicts, and hunting them hard. There was a break in the case when they found the men’s DNA in a different hunting cabin 13 miles away last week.

Experts think they’re using these camps as places to stop off and accumulate (er, snag?) necessary provisions during their trip.

But will all these clues be enough to finally lead the men to officials? Hard to say. But it looks like they’re getting at least slightly less adept at hiding their evidence.

Original Story:

Two convicted killers who made a daring escape from a New York prison a little over a week ago are still on the run, while more than 800 law enforcement officers continue their intense search to find them. Investigators admit that at this point, David Sweat and Richard Matt could be anywhere, including Canada or Mexico.

Late Friday evening, Joyce Mitchell, a 51-year-old worker from the prison the two men escaped from, was arrested and charged with one felony charge of promoting prison contraband and one charge of criminal facilitation for aiding the escape. She appeared before a judge for an arraignment, reports NPR, and has pleaded not guilty. Mitchell was an instructor in the Clinton Correctional Facility’s tailor shop.

Mitchell reportedly told authorities that she’d planned to pick the men up after they broke free. She said they were going to head to a cabin in Vermont, but first they’d planned to stop and kill her husband. Mitchell said she got “cold feet” because she still loved her better half, and she felt guilty.

Joyce Mitchell, accused of helping the killers escape.

Joyce Mitchell, accused of helping the killers escape.

For their parts, an in-depth article in Friday’s New York Times revealed lots of fascinating details about the two escaped killers’ personal histories. According to reporter N.R. Kleinfield, the convicts — who’d been held in adjoining cells — spent much of their lives behind bars, and both had long criminal records and came from “splintered families.”

According to Kleinfield, a judge once called Sweat a “teenage idiot,” and his mom reportedly said her son had started throwing knives at her (!) when he was just 9 years old. She sent him off to foster care after reportedly having two mental breakdowns fueled by her difficulties trying to care for him.

Richard Matt was known as a ladies’ man with a high I.Q. as a youth, per the NY Times. He, too, had plenty of trouble with authority. He was sent away to a youth home as a teenager, and reportedly stole a horse and left because he didn’t like it there. He was arrested 8 times between 1985 and 1991 on a range of charges, and eventually went on to kill a man, dismember the body, and brag about it.

Prior to their escape, the AP reports that both of the convicts worked many nights between midnight and 5 a.m. with tools on site from contractors. They would put the tools away before it was time for everyone to wake up, and they’re believed to have used some of these tools to pull off their astonishing flight.

Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce a formal investigation into the escape and how it happened. Cuomo says he has zero tolerance for anyone who aided these suspects, the NY Times reported.

Previous Update – June 9, 2015:

According to the Daily Mail, a female worker at the upstate New York prison that convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped from over the weekend is being investigated for possibly helping them flee. The woman in question may be named Joyce Mitchell, claims ABC News, and per state records she has worked as an industrial training supervisor at the Clinton Correctional Facility since 2010.

Mitchell has reportedly been removed from her position following “speculation she may have fallen for Matt’s good looks.”

Per the Daily Mail, a source apparently told the Sunday Post that Matt has, ahem, many charms: “When [Matt’s] cleaned up, he’s very handsome and, in all frankness, very well endowed. He gets girlfriends any place he goes.”

The killers are still on the loose, with a $100,000 state reward offered for information leading to their capture. A local man in the same town where the jail is located told ABC News he saw the two fugitives in his backyard late at night with a guitar case. The man said he considered himself “lucky to be alive” after his close encounter with the duo.

ORIGINAL STORY, June 8, 2015:

It was early this past Saturday morning when prison officials came across the mysteriously empty bunk beds of two convicted murderers.

The prisoners, identified as 48-year-old Richard Matt and 34-year-old David Sweat, vanished sometime in the middle of the night from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY, and haven’t been seen since. The only thing left behind was an eerie, smiley-faced yellow note that read, “Have a nice day.”

The killers’ note.

The killers’ note.

Officials believe the duo cut though walls and steel pipes with power tools before masterfully maneuvering their way through tunnels and finally escaping as free men through a manhole. Many media outlets are classifying this as a “Shawshank Redemption“-style prison break, and authorities are agreeing that it most likely took many days (and lots of planning) for the escapees to pull this off.

According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, this was the first breakout at this particular facility since 1865 — and he wants to make sure it’s the last. ABC News says Cuomo, on behalf of New York State, is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the men’s arrest. Cuomo added, “These are killers. They are murderers. 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.”

Cuomo believes other prisoners may have heard the noise of the tools cutting through walls and pipes, but no one said a word. In addition, ABC News says Sweat’s and Matt’s beds were stuffed with clothes to make it look like they were sleeping through the night when guards stopped by to check on them every two hours.

More than 200 officers have boots on the ground, going door-to-door to search for clues that may lead to Sweat or Matt. Helicopters, K-9 units and other agencies are also offering assistance. The other challenge officials are facing is the fact that this facility is only 20 miles from the Canadian border, it’s possible the men crossed that border. They could also be in another state by now. As New York State Police Major Charles Guess said in a news conference, “They could be literally anywhere.”

According to ABC News, Matt is serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and beating a man to death in 1997. Sweat, according to the same report, was doing life after killing a Sheriff’s deputy in 2002.

It’s possible the pair may have obtained the power tool from contractors inside the facility, or had additional help from others on the inside. A full investigation into how this happened is underway.

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