New York Times reveals more details of the shocking upstate New York prison escape

A wanted poster for escaped convict David Sweat is seen in an undated handout released by the New York State Police. Sweat and fellow inmate Richard Matt escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6. REUTERS/New York State Police/Handout Thomson ReutersA wanted poster for escaped convict David Sweat is seen in a handout released by the New York State Police

It’s been about six weeks since convicted murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, and more details of their elaborate escape are coming to light.

Laid up in a hospital bed, Sweat provided an account of the escape to investigators from the State Police, the Corrections Department, and the State Inspector General’s Office during numerous sessions, the details of which have been revealed to The New York Times.

According to the Times, Sweat began plotting his escape this past January when he was transferred to a cell next to Richard Matt. Sweat almost immediately used a stolen hacksaw blade to cut a hole in the back of his cell and then another one in the back of Matt’s cell.

Dannemora escape richard matt david sweatREUTERS/New York Governor’s Press Office/HandoutA hole in the wall of a prison cell is seen in a handout picture from the New York Governor’s Press Office taken at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York June 6, 2015.

Every night, Sweat would investigate the tunnels beneath the prison in search of a way out. He would return to his cell by the morning with guards none the wiser. The Times described his daily routine as such:

He would wait each night until after the 11:30 head count to crawl through the hole, shimmy down a series of pipes going down several stories and begin roaming the tunnels. He would return to his cell each morning before the 5:30 a.m. count, camouflage his portal to the maze below and start his daily routine.

Dannemora escape richard matt david sweatREUTERS/New York Governor’s Press Office/HandoutNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo views the scene of a prison escape in a handout picture from the New York Governor’s Press Office taken at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York June 6, 2015.

In his account, Sweat portrayed himself as the main architect behind the escape. He searched through dead-end routes for months before finding a series of pipes that travelled through the prison’s outer wall to place 20 feet outside the prison. First he had to break through a concrete wall. For months, he worked at hacking away the wall.

Perhaps what is most shocking about his account is just how much it hews to any number of “prison-escape” movie plots. Sweat stole a sledgehammer and other tools to assist in the escape, kept a second set of clothes in the tunnels to work in, and even had an exceptionally lucky break when a shutdown of the prison’s heating system allowed him to take a shortcut.

From the Times:

Around May 4, when the prison shut down its heating system for the season, one of the pipes, a blistering 24-inch steam main, started to cool. So he opted for a shortcut and decided to cut into the large pipe, which travelled through the large concrete wall. Using hacksaw blades with handles fashioned from rags, it took him more than four weeks of methodical work to cut holes into and out of the pipe that were large enough for the men to crawl through.

A note with a caption Thomson ReutersHandout photo shows a note with a caption
Dannemora escape richard matt david sweatREUTERS/New York State Office of the Governor/Darren McGee/HandoutNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo (R) looks at the manhole believed to have been used by escaped convicts near the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, in this handout picture taken June 6, 2015

A few days after the hole in the pipe was cut, Matt and Sweat escaped.

The movie comparison wasn’t lost on Sweat or Matt. According to Sweat, he and Matt joked often about the similarities between their prison break and that of Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption.” The only difference, according to Sweat, was that their escape wouldn’t take 20 years.

Head over to The New York Times for all the details of Sweat’s DIY ingenuity.

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