Con­victs defy cap­ture — and odds

New York of­fi­cials fol­low var­i­ous leads on Day 5 of the search for 2 es­caped killers.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Matt Pearce and Katie Shep­herd matt.pearce@la­times.com katie.shep­herd@la­times.com

A fe­male pri­son em­ployee be­friended and may have helped two killers with power tools es­cape a max­i­mum­se­cu­rity New York fa­cil­ity last week­end, of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

A large man­hunt for Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, en­tered its fifth day with­out a con­firmed sight­ing of the two con­victed mur­der­ers. The search spread to neigh­bor­ing Ver­mont on Wed­nes­day af­ter of­fi­cials said they had in­for­ma­tion that the men dis­cussed hid­ing there to avoid de­tec­tion.

“They thought New York was go­ing to be ‘hot,’ Ver­mont would be ‘ cooler’ in terms of law en­force­ment, and a camp in Ver­mont would be a bet­ter place,” said Ver­mont Gov. Peter Shumlin, de­clin­ing to say the source of that in­for­ma­tion.

Of­fi­cials also re­fused to go into de­tail about how the em­ployee may have helped the men es­cape from the Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in Dannemora, about 20 miles south of Canada.

New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were in­ter­view­ing other em­ploy­ees and still try­ing to fig­ure out where Matt and Sweat got the tools to make their es­cape through a se­ries of walls, tun­nels and pipes.

“We need to find th­ese es­capees,” Cuomo said. “They are danger­ous men, they are killers, they are mur­der­ers. There’s no rea­son to be­lieve they wouldn’t do it again — they are more des­per­ate than ever.”

Matt and Sweat have de­fied the odds in last­ing this long, ac­cord­ing to data from the New York Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions and Com­mu­nity Su­per­vi­sion. Be­tween 2002 and 2012, of the 29 in­mates who es­caped from New York state prisons, none lasted longer than three days be­fore be­ing re­cap­tured. Most were caught within 24 hours.

There’s no of­fi­cial data that any of the es­capees in those years bur­rowed out be­low a pri­son the way that Matt and Sweat did. Es­capees are also vastly more likely to be in their 20s rather than their 30s or 40s.

Only six es­capees were from max­i­mum-se­cu­rity fa- cil­i­ties, and only four had been con­victed of mur­ders like Matt and Sweat. Many sim­ply walked away from min­i­mum-se­cu­rity fa­cil­i­ties or es­caped from work de­tails.

Matt and Sweat’s es­cape most closely re­sem­bles a 2003 es­cape from the Elmira Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity — the last time in­mates were cred­ited with es­cap­ing from in­side a max­i­mum-se­cu­rity pri­son in New York state.

In that in­ci­dent, con­victed mur­der­ers Ti­mothy Vail, 35, and Ti­mothy Mor­gan, 26, stole parts of tools and used them to chip away at the ceil­ing of their cell, then es­caped from the pri­son’s roof us­ing tied-to­gether bed­sheets. Like Matt and Sweat, they left dum­mies in their beds to mis­lead guards.

Vail and Mor­gan were cap­tured a day later, a cou­ple miles from the pri­son.

Seth Wenig As­so­ci­ated Press

LAW EN­FORCE­MENT of­fi­cers ques­tion a woman as they go house to house near the max­i­mum-se­cu­rity Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in Dannemora, N.Y., in the search for the two killers who es­caped last week­end.

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