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Regional News

Escaped prisoners 'could be anywhere'

Escape_Inmates_Small_Photo.jpg
New York State Police
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David Sweat (left) and Richard Matt (right) escaped from Clinton Correction Facility.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says two prisoners who escaped from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility could be "anywhere in the country." In an interview on NBC's Today Show Monday morning, the governor called the two escapees "dangerous, desperate men."

New York state is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the two convicted murderers.

In a prison-break drawing comparisons to the film The Shawshank Redemption, inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat broke out of the facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border, early Saturday morning by cutting through steel walls, shimmying through a steam pipe and emerging from a manhole on the outside.

Cuomo said that finding the two men is the first order of business. The governor's office said that more than 250 law enforcement and corrections officials have been searching for the inmates in the immediate area. Federal and state authorities are involved in the search including New York State Police, state Department of Corrections officers, FBI, U.S. Marshals and state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers.

The governors office also emphasized that Matt and Sweat should be considered dangerous and they appealed to the public for help. The award is $50,000 for each prisoner and a new tip line has been set up -- 1-800-GIVE-TIP.

Authorities are also investigating how the inmates pulled off their escape. Cuomo said Monday morning that the prisoners could not have acquired the equipment needed without help. The governor said they could have help from both inside and outside the prison, but he thinks inside help is the most likely.

In interviews, Cuomo called the escape an extraordinary event that must have taken days to accomplish. The governor also said he believed other inmates must have heard them during their escape.

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Credit governorandrewcuomo / Flickr
Gov. Andrew Cuomo looking at the manhole where the two prisoners who escaped the Clinton Correctional Facility.

"There was a hole cut out of the back of their cell through which these inmates escaped ... and had power tools and were able to get out through this facility through tunnels, cutting their way in several spots," New York Corrections Commissioner Anthony Annucci told reporters in a news conference Saturday. Matt and Sweat were noticed to be missing during an early Saturday morning bed check.

Matt was convicted of beating a man to death in 1997. Sweat murdered a sheriff in 2002.

"They could be out of state, but they still could be holed up here in Dannemora," he said, adding that it was unknown whether the escapees are together or have separated and that authorities were also unsure whether they had access to a vehicle or were getting outside assistance.

Monday morning, Cuomo pointed out that Matt "has experience in Mexico." Matt killed a man in Mexico after abducting, torturing and dismembering a Buffalo-area businessman. While in Mexico, he killed a man outside a bar in Matamoros. He served nine years in prison before being returned to the U.S. in 2007.

It's the first escape ever from the maximum-security portion of Clinton Correctional since the facility was established before the Civil War.