New York Prison Break Probe Focuses on Whether Employees Helped Inmates – Wall Street Journal

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tours the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., from which two inmates escaped on late Friday or early Saturday.

‘They definitely had help. Otherwise, they couldn’t have done this on their own,’ Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, said during an appearance on the ‘Today’ show on Monday. The two escaped prisoners, both convicted murders, were David Sweat, 34 years old, and Richard Matt, 48.

A hole in the wall of a prison cell at the upstate New York facility, which is about 20 miles form the Canadian border. State officials are investigating whether a civilian staff member or contractor helped the pair of convicted murders escape.

The men are believed to have sawed through a steel plate and steel pipes, scaled a catwalk, shimmied through a narrow tunnel and a pipe, broke through a brick wall and severed a lock and chain to open a manhole that emerged from within the prison. Gov. Andrew Cuomo views an opening cut in a cell wall.

A sewer pipe was cut open as part of the prisoners’ escape. Richard Matt was serving a sentence of 25 years to life for the 1997 murder of his former boss. David Sweat was serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder of a sheriff’s deputy in 2002.

An apparent message left behind by the two prisoners.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo views a sewer pipe that had been cut open.

A manhole through which the two prisoners escaped from the maximum-security facility. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday the pair of escaped convicts could be anywhere and were extremely dangerous.

The two convicted murderers who escaped from an upstate prison likely had help from inside of the prison, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a television appearance Monday.

“I don’t believe they could have acquired the equipment they needed to do this,” Mr. Cuomo said on the “Today” show, the first in a series of television appearances he made. “They definitely had help. Otherwise, they couldn’t have done this on their own.”

Members of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision emergency response team walk along a road before entering the woods in search of the two prisoners.
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Mr. Cuomo said David Sweat, 34 years old, and Richard Matt, 48, could be anywhere and were extremely dangerous. The prison is about 20 miles from the Canadian border in the Adirondack Mountains, a particularly rural stretch of the state.

While the state had more than 100 leads on the two men, none of them have proven fruitful. Mr. Cuomo said it was unclear if the two were still together.

Meanwhile, public schools were open Monday in Dannemora, where the prison is located, said Richard Scholl, a village trustee, but children were being kept indoors. Mr. Scholl said the New York State Police swept the schools on Sunday. State Police remained on campus to provide security on Monday, he said.


“They are well protected that’s for sure,” Mr. Scholl said.

The men sawed through a steel plate and steel pipes, scaled a catwalk, shimmied through a narrow tunnel and a pipe, broke through a brick wall and severed a lock and chain to open a manhole that emerged from within the prison in upstate New York late Friday or early Saturday. The two left dummies in their bed to avoid being found overnight as the guards conducted head counts every two hours, Mr. Cuomo said on CNN. Behind, they left a note with a smiley face that said “Have a nice day!”

“They had a little bit of a comedian in them,” he said Monday morning of the note. The governor added that he planned on giving them back the note.

A composite image shows convicted murderers David Sweat, left, and Richard Matt who escaped from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y.
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The governor said the scheme had been elaborately planned for at least days, and the state was investigating how they acquired power tools in the prison, among other things. Mr. Cuomo said he would be “shocked” if a guard helped them escape and suspected someone like a civilian employee or a contractor.

Mr. Cuomo likened it to a movie script. Even in a movie, he said, “it would have been unbelievable what they accomplished.”

—Joseph De Avila contributed to this article

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