Police Swarm New York Town in All-Out Search for Escaped Murderers | NECN
Vermont

Vermont

The latest news from around the state

Police Swarm New York Town in All-Out Search for Escaped Murderers

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Tuesday, investigators descended on Willsboro, New York, as a former Vermont prison inmate provided necn with insight on the culture behind bars. (Published Tuesday, June 9, 2015)

    Tuesday, federal and state law enforcement agencies in upstate New York continued their search for a pair of convicted murderers who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.

    David Sweat, 34, was convicted in the 2002 killing of a sheriff's deputy and was doing life without parole. Richard Matt, 48, was serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and dismembering his boss in 1997.

    On what was day four of the search efforts, officers swarmed Willsboro, New York, a small town approximately 30 miles southeast of the prison. Residents reported seeing a couple of men walking on a road Monday night in a rain storm.

    After this much time, logic holds the pair could have made it to almost anywhere in the country, or even fled internationally.

    However, NBC affiliate WPTZ-TV reported Monday night that investigators were pursuing a theory that a getaway driver failed to pick up the men when they busted free late Friday night or in the wee hours of Saturday morning. That meant, they could have still been on foot, sources told the television station.

    The inmates somehow got ahold of power tools and used them to punch their way to freedom, New York investigators said.

    They then used stuffed clothes to trick corrections officers into thinking they were in their beds, while they secretly snaked their way through the bowels of the prison and popped out of a manhole, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-New York, who has prioritized catching the pair.

    $100,000 in reward money is available for critical information that leads to their capture. Sweat and Matt are described as very dangerous, so police urge the public not to approach them, and instead, to simply call the authorities.

    "I would be extremely surprised if it did not turn out there was some type of collusion," said Gordon Bock, a former Vermont prison inmate who is now a prison reform advocate with the national group Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, or CURE.

    Investigators have said they are questioning not just the staff of the prison, but also outside contractors, who have been busy doing work at the facility.

    New York State Police said they were interested in what a particular employee at the prison may know about the brazen escape. That civilian employee, who teaches sewing at a prison tailoring workshop, has been identified as Joyce Mitchell.

    Mitchell’s son told NBC News that his mother would never have played any role in helping the convicts flee. NBC News also reported that Joyce Mitchell sought medical attention Saturday, the day the escape was discovered, for some sort of anxiety attack.

    "I'm sure it's locked down tighter than a snare drum," Bock said, describing the security inside the Dannemora facility right now.

    Bock, who said he served a sum of 13 months in Vermont prisons on domestic violence convictions, told necn that detectives may not get much help from other inmates.

    "One common phrase in the prison vernacular is that 'snitches get stitches,'" Bock noted.

    In other words, Bock said prisoners with knowledge of the escape planning may fear revenge if they were to help law enforcement.

    Considering how Matt and Sweat had to snake through back passageways and pipes of the prison, Bock said it would have been next to impossible for them to execute their plot without help not just in securing power tools, but also, in obtaining some sort of layout of the 170-year-old complex.

    "I don’t have any direct knowledge of the Dannemora facility, but I can tell you in Vermont prisons, if you got caught with any kind of blueprint of anything, it's a major disciplinary report," Bock said. "Any kind of map? That’s a major disciplinary report."

    Richard Matt is a white male, described as 6 feet tall, 210 pounds, with black hair and hazel eyes. He has a tattoo on his back reading "Mexico Forever" and a Marine Corps insignia on his right shoulder, New York State Police said.

    David Sweat is 5 foot 11 inches and 165 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes, police said. He has tattoos on his left bicep and of the letters I, F, and B, on the fingers of his right hand, police said.

    Anyone who may encounter the pair is urged to call 911 immediately, and not to approach the men. If anyone has information on the case, New York State Police ask they call the hotline 1-800-GIVE-TIP. 

    For up-to-the-minute news and weather, be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Sign up for our new breaking news email alerts by clicking here and download our free apps here.