When David Sweat and Richard Matt broke out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, in 2015, people immediatley drew comparison between their elaborate escape and the plot of "The Shawshank Redemption." Reports revealed that Sweat and Matt had manipulated two prison employees into smuggling in breakout tools in frozen hamburger meat, cut holes in the steel at the backs of their cells and created an escape through an 18-inch steam pipe.
After the inmates made it out of the prison, however, the plan began to fall apart. Sweat and Matt's main accomplice, prison employee Joyce Mitchell, failed to show up at the rendezvous point with a car and supplies, and the two convicts had to flee for the Canadian border on foot. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said at the time that the two were “dangerous, dangerous men,” and he noted that Matt had killed “at least two people” while Sweat had “killed a sheriff's deputy … in a savage, savage way.”
Over the following three weeks, a massive manhunt ensued, costing the state of New York $23 million and leading local residents to arm themselves.
Meanwhile, Sweat and Matt were experiencing their own difficulties on the lam. During his later interrogation with law enforcement, Sweat explained how his partnership with Matt began to fall apart.
"He kept bringin' sh*t up, like, 'Oh, I'd rather die out here free' and this. I said, 'Why do you keep talkin' about dyin' and violent sh*t?" said Sweat in the revealing audio tapes. "I said, 'Do you, we shouldn't be doin' anything other than what we have to survive.'"
Sweat, who was 34 at the time, told investigators that he only wanted to "disappear," and that is what Matt, 48, "wanted too, in the beginning."
"But then he just started talking stupid," said Sweat. "He would drink every time he'd find sh*t. What are you doin', dude?"
In Oxygen's two-hour special "Dannemora Prison Break," the author of "Escape From Dannemora" Michael Benson said once outside the prison walls, the pair got into various arguments as their differences became "glaring."
"Matt is older; he's heavier. Sweat is young, healthy, wiry, very strong. ... For Sweat, he's got to feel like he's still wearing a ball and chain, and the ball and chain is named Richard Matt," said Benson.
After 18 days of trying to survive in the wilderness and backroads of upstate New York, Sweat hit his breaking point and left Matt behind.
He told investigators, "I told Matt, I said, 'Look there's a cop right there.' So I start haulin' ass. I said, 'We gotta move, we gotta move. You're not keepin' up.' I said, 'You know what? I hate to do it to him.' But I kept my part of the deal. I got him out. And I bolted on him. I just left him there."
Three days after the two parted ways, Matt was spotted by law enforcement and shot to death. Forty-eight hours following Matt's death, Sweat was shot and captured alive by police. He is currently incarcerated at the Attica Correctional Facility.
To hear more about Sweat and Matt's escape, watch "Dannemora Prison Break" on Oxygen.
[Photo: New York State Police]
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