Law enforcement agencies were busy Sunday searching for two convicted murders who used power tools to make an ingenious escape from a maximum security prison in upstate New York the day before.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking Sunday after touring the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, called the escape “elaborate” and “sophisticated” and promised a full investigation into different aspects of the escape, including how the duo got hold of power tools.
The two fugitives, 48-year-old Richard Matt and David Sweat, 34, escaped either late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Their absence was noticed during a 5:30 a.m. bed check on Saturday.
Matt was serving time for the 1997 kidnapping, murder and dismemberment of his former boss, William Rickerson. While awaiting trial for Rickerson’s murder, Matt fled to Mexico, where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years for killing an American during an attempted robbery outside a bar.
He was extradited to the United States in 2007 to stand trial for Rickerson’s murder, according to the New York Times.
Sweat was serving a life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2002 shooting death of Kevin Tarsia, a sheriff’s deputy for Broome County, New York.
In a conference call with reporters, Gov. Cuomo gave specifics about the manner of the two men’s escape, the Associated Press reported. According to the Governor, the two had to cut through a steel plate, break through a brick wall and shimmy through a narrow steam pipe before finally sawing through the steel chain securing the manhole cover through which they escaped. The manhole is located roughly a block from the walls of the prison.
The two men, who were in adjoining cells, made dummies out of extra clothes and placed them in their beds to fool the guards.
The jailbreak was the first escape from Clinton’s maximum security in the facility’s 150-year history, prison officials said.
According to a tweet by Cuomo Deputy Press Secretary Gareth Rhodes, the escapees left a note that read “have a nice day” on the pipe they used to escape.
On the pipe the 2 inmates cut open as part of escape, a note was left w a smiley face and caption “have a nice day” pic.twitter.com/Opo4qrgvg6
— Gareth Rhodes (@garethtrhodes) June 6, 2015
Hundreds of officers from several law enforcement agencies, including the State Police, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, are searching for Matt and Sweat. Officers set up roadblocks and searched houses in the area surrounding the prison and are using helicopters, K-9 units and bloodhounds to try to find the missing prisoners.
Matt is white, 6 feet tall, with black hair and hazel eyes and weighs 210 pounds. He has tattoos, including one that reads “Mexico Forever” on his back, a heart across his chest and left shoulder and a Marine Corps insignia on his right shoulder.
Sweat is white, 5 feet 11 inches tall, with brown hair and green eyes and weighs 165 pounds, according to police. He has tattoos on his right fingers and his left bicep.
Cuomo described both men as dangerous, and officials cautioned anyone who saw the fugitives simply to call the police rather than approach them.
New York state announced Sunday that it is offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the capture of the two men.