Tonawanda native, murderer still on the loose

Richard Matt escaped Clinton Correctional along with another inmate, David Sweat

DANNEMORA, N.Y. (WIVB)- Governor Cuomo is calling the escape by two inmates “extraordinary”, and it’s the first at the maximum security portion of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y.

“They gained access from the back of their cell which is a steel wall; they went through the steel wall, into a cat walk, down an elaborate maze of pipes, into tunnels and exited a series of tunnels,” Cuomo said.

The Governor traveled to Dannemora Saturday afternoon to assist prison officials in retracing the inmates’ steps.

The two inmates, Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, both convinced murderers, had adjoining cells.

Prison officials said the two used power tools to drill through that steel wall.

They’re unsure of how the inmates got the tools.

“We have a lot of outside contractors that come in to do various repair jobs, so we’re following those leads,” said Commissioner of Dept. of Corrections, Anthony Annucci.

Authorityes are not sure how the two men developed such an elaborate and accurate escape route.

“We hope when we capture these individuals, to learn from them, how they discovered the right route to go to,” Annucci said.

Richard Matt has ties to Western New York; he’s from Tonawanda, and is serving 25 years to life for killing local businessman William Rickerson in 1997 in Niagara County.

It took authorities almost a decade to get Matt in custody; he fled to Mexico shortly after the murder and was serving time there for a separate killing.

News 4 spoke to prosecutor Joe Mordino in 2008, when Matt was finally brought back to Western New York to face charges.

Mordino wanted him to get the death penalty.

“To torture someone, to beat them, to drive them around in the trunk of a car in December in his pajamas for 27 hours, and then to callously break his neck, that’s absolutely horrible,” Mordino told News 4 during Matt’s sentencing.

Prison officials said the inmates placed hooded sweatshirts on their bunks to make it look like they were sleeping; guards noticed they were gone around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, but they don’t know exactly when they escaped.

A team of 200 local, state, and federal officers are on the streets, trying to bring them back.

“These are dangerous people, and they’re nothing to be trifled with,” Cuomo said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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