For David Sweat, getting out of prison took luck, hard work, help or inaction from prison workers, and what the New York Times calls a "MacGyver-like sense of ingenuity." Sources briefed on what Sweat has told investigators after his recapture last month say that he managed to saw a hole in his cell wall with a hacksaw blade back in February, and for months, he would disappear into the depths of the prison after the 11:30pm head count, every night climbing down a pipe from the catwalk behind his cell and searching the maze of tunnels beneath the Clinton Correctional Facility for a way out.
The sources say Sweat at first thought a sewer pipe might be his exit, Shawshank Redemption-style, but it was a dead end and he ended up spending weeks cutting holes in an old steam pipe that would take him and accomplice Richard Matt to freedom, using a fan hooked up to the tunnel lights to keep him cool and storing his "work clothes" in the tunnels. Sweat has told investigators that he and Matt joked that it took Shawshank character Andy Dufresne 20 years to get out of prison; they would be able to do it in 10. Matt—who was shot dead by police two days before Sweat was captured—had to go on a crash diet and lose 50 pounds to fit in the pipe, the Buffalo News reports. (Sweat is now behind bars at a different prison.)