N.Y. gov: Power tool-aided escape ‘had to be heard’

Associated Press

Dannemora, N.Y. — Two murderers who used power tools to escape from prison must have taken days to cut through steel walls and pipes and break through the bricks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday as a $100,000 reward was posted for information leading to their capture.

Authorities were investigating how the inmates obtained the power tools they used in the “Shawshank Redemption”-style breakout over the weekend.

“It was a sophisticated plan,” Cuomo said. “It took a period of time, no doubt, to execute.”

David Sweat, 34, was serving a sentence of life without parole for the 2002 killing of a sheriff’s deputy.

Richard Matt, 48, had been sentenced to 25 years to life for kidnapping, killing and dismembering his former boss in 1997.

Officials gave no details on how the men managed to avoid detection while cutting their way out. “They had to be heard,” Cuomo told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Authorities set up roadblocks and brought in bloodhounds and helicopters. Hundreds of law enforcement officers fanned out around the prison, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, following up on dozens of tips.

But authorities acknowledged they did not have a good idea where the convicts could be. They may have crossed into Canada or headed to another state, Cuomo said.

Prison officials found the inmates’ beds inside the 150-year-old Clinton Correctional Facility stuffed with clothes on Saturday morning in an apparent attempt to fool guards making their rounds.

On a cut steam pipe, the prisoners left a taunting note containing a crude Asian caricature and the words “Have a nice day.”

Officials said the inmates cut through the steel wall at the back of their cell, crawled down a catwalk, broke through a brick wall, cut their way into and out of a steam pipe, and then sliced through the chain and lock on a manhole cover outside the prison.

To escape, the inmates had to cut into the steam pipe then shimmy “some distance,” Cuomo said, before cutting themselves out again.

It was the first escape from the maximum-security portion of the prison, which was built in 1865.