Dead prison escapee Richard Matt had WNY ties

ANGOLA, N.Y. (WIVB)- After three weeks on the run, 49-year-old convicted murderer Richard Matt was shot and killed by law enforcement in upstate New York June 26.

Matt, a Tonawanda native, broke out of Clinton Correctional in Dannemora, N.Y. June 6 along with 35-year-old David Sweat, who authorities are still looking for.

Matt has several Western New York connections, including a son, a half-brother, and a former accomplice.

“Yeah, it’s a lot to register and comprehend at first. It’s just, shocking, nobody would really expect that,” said his son, Nick Harris, shortly after Matt escaped.

Matt was serving a lengthy sentence for killing a north Tonawanda businessman in late 90s.

He was convicted of murdering and dismembering William Rickerson, and throwing his body into the Niagara River.

News of Matt’s escape put many Western New Yorkers on edge, including law enforcement who helped put him in jail, and his former accomplice.

“He’s extremely dangerous, I’ve seen what he can do,” said Lee Bates shortly after Matt broke out of Clinton Correctional.

Bates served 16 years for being Matt’s accomplice to that grisly murder, but he testified Matt was the primary killer.

After learning of his escaped, he feared for his safety.

“His ability to be cunning and manipulative. He can manipulate people easily. I’m sure we wanted it bad enough, and used everything to his ability to execute this,” he said.

Matt, who evaded authorities for a decade after murdering Rickerson, landed in a Mexican prison for a separate killing. He also spent time in Attica.

Matt’s half-brother lives in Amherst. During the course of the three-week long manhunt, authorities got a tip Matt may have fled there, but it turned out to be wrong,

Harris told News 4 because his father was in and out of jail his entire life, he never got a chance to know him. 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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