Highway Closed in Hunt for Fugitives

Previous NY escapee wishes fugitives luck
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2015 5:14 AM CDT
Updated Jun 11, 2015 7:00 AM CDT
Highway Closed in Hunt for Fugitives
Two law enforcement officers make their way across a lawn and onto Pleasant Street yesterday in Dannemora, NY.   (Rob Fountain /The Press-Republican via AP)

After expanding the search to Vermont, authorities hunting escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat have descended on a village just a few miles from the prison. Police have closed a stretch of State Route 374 and ordered residents of Cadyville, NY, to stay inside and keep their exterior lights on, residents tell WPTZ. In other developments:

  • Timothy Vail was the last man to escape from a New York prison, according to the New York Daily News, and he says he hopes Matt and Sweat can avoid capture. He tells the Daily News that he hopes they "stay out of sight and don't commit any new crimes." Vail, who raped and murdered a pregnant woman in 1988, injured himself while escaping from the Elmira Correctional Facility in 2003 and was recaptured within two days after he and a fellow fugitive stole a van.

  • Police officers who've dealt with Matt say he is the most evil criminal they've encountered, and he was trouble from a very early age, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. The former chief of police in North Tonawanda, near where Matt grew up, says he's around the same age as the 48-year-old and that long before Matt's first arrest, he had a "fearsome" reputation and was known for terrorizing other kids on the school bus. An officer in Tonawanda tells the paper that in 1986—11 years before his arrest for a gruesome local murder—Matt broke out of a correctional facility and was recaptured a few days later.
  • Early reports described the pair as among the first to escape in the Clinton Correctional Facility's long history, but dozens of men have made it out in various ways since the forbidding Dannemora, NY, institution opened in 1845, the New York Times reports. In 1860, a fraudster known as the "Gay Deceiver" put on civilian clothes, strolled out the gate, and wasn't recaptured for a year. A history professor tells the Times that the first escapes happened just weeks after the prison opened. The reform-minded warden decided not to punish the two men after they were recaptured, the professor says, but it wasn't long before a new warden installed a dungeon for solitary confinement, where punishments included waterboarding.
(Read more prison break stories.)

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