ON THE RUN: 2 Murderers Escape From Maximum Security Prison In New York

ON THE RUN: 2 Murderers Escape From Maximum Security Prison In New York

A manhunt is underway in Upstate New York for a pair of convicted murderers who pulled off an elaborate overnight escape from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York.

On Sunday, more than 200 law enforcement officers using bloodhounds and 3 helicopters were searching for inmates Richard Matt (right) and David Sweat (left) in the region surrounding the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY, which is about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, according to The Associated Press.

The men were referred to as “dangerous individuals” by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who joined searchers to examine the prisoners’ escape route before holding a news conference outside the prison.

Sweat, 34, is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of killing a Broome County sheriff’s deputy in 2002. Matt, 48, is serving 25 years to life in prison after he kidnapped, murdered, and dismembered his former boss, William Rickerson, in 1997, police said.

The two murderers, who were in separate but adjacent cells, arranged hoodies and other clothing to make it appear as if they were in their beds sleeping, officials said. They were first unaccounted for during a 5:30 a.m. early morning bed check, New York State Police explained.

They then escaped through holes in the wall of their adjoining cells onto a catwalk about six stories high, and climbed down. The men appeared to have power tools in several spots that they used in their escape through tunnels, officials said, although it is unsure how they got them.

Before exiting the prison, the men left a yellow sticky note on a pipe that read “Have a nice day!,” according to Washington Post.

2 murderers escape and left this note on a pipe

The inmates left a note reading, “Have a nice day!” (Image source: New York State Governor’s Office / People)

“It was an elaborate plot,” said Governor Cuomo, noting that it was the first time that anyone had escaped from the maximum-security portion of the institution in the 150 years its been open.

“You look at the precision of the operation,” he added. “It was truly extraordinary.”

Paula Ashley, who lives within several blocks of the manhole that the prisoners emerged from, told NBC News that she was shocked the brazen escape was unfolding in her small town of 5,000 people.

“Is this a drill or is this for real?” she said. “This is very scary. This is my backyard. This is where my son plays outside.”

Officials told The New York Times that 2003 was the last year a prison escape occurred from the New York State system. That year, a pair of convicted murderers escaped a facility in Elmira, NY, before being found and arrested the next day.

Sweat is 5 feet 11 inches, with brown hair and green eyes and weighs 165 pounds, police said. He has tattoos on his left bicep and his right fingers.

Matt is 6 feet tall, with black hair and hazel eyes, according to police. He weighs 210 pounds and has tattoos including “Mexico Forever” on his back, a heart on his chest and left shoulder and a Marine Corps insignia on his right shoulder.

Gov. Cuomo has announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the prisoners’ arrests. Anyone with information should call the New York State Police at 518-563-3761.

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