tv CNN Special Report CNN June 23, 2015 9:00pm-9:31pm PDT
court on the 13th. >> that does it for us, another p cn thrks special report g prisprison escapp prison e. the following is a cnn special report. >> a brazen escape. >> there was a hole cut out of the back of the cell. >> from which these inmates escaped. >> two convicted killers cutting their way to freedom, emerging from a manhole outside the prison walls. >> we estimate they climbed down and had power tools and were able to get outside this facility. >> two dangerous murderers, now free. >> they kill anybody they feel like killing any time. >> how did they get the power tools? who helped them and where are they now? >> we're leaving no stone unturned. >> a scent in the woods, all sightings, all part of the desperate search in the
adirondacks, from the canadian border from the ground and air. >> it is easy to get lost up in there. >> is law enforcement closing in? hello, i'm randy kaye, in new york, from the clinton correctional facility, it's the first time anybody escaped from this facility since it opened back in the mid-1800s. that bold escape was just the beginning of a story that is almost too twisted to believe, involving murder, manipulation and sex. before the sun even began to rise over the small town of dannemora, new york, they were gone. an escape plan worthy of a
screenplay carried out by two very dangerous men. >> on a scale of one to ten, they're a ten, dangerous, wild animal. >> prisoners, richard matt and david sweat, had joining cells here at the facility. the two were last seen around friday night, june 5th, around 10:30 p.m., during a search, where matt and sweat showed themselves standing inside their cells. but just hours later, a shocking discovery. it would leave prison guards shaking their heads, law enforcement on high alert. and this small upstate new york community terrified. >> this is a very elaborate plan. but we are only at the very preliminary stages of determining exactly what happened. >> reporter: what happened would take time to piece together. all authorities knew at this point was that at 5:30 a.m. on saturday june 6th, routine bed
checks turned up only lumps of clothing underneath the sheets. the two prisoners were missing. >> they were not actual dummies, but they had clothing on, and they looked like people sleeping in the bunks with a sweatshirt hoodie on. >> reporter: how could they have disappeared? after all, this is a maximum security prison. there are visual bed checks every two hours throughout the night. and guard towers high above the prison walls. but as authorities began to take a closer look details soon emerged of a stunning escape. not over the prison wall, but underneath it. >> search revealed there was a hole cut out of the back of the cell, through which these inmates escaped. >> a hole in the back of the cell. this is what it looked like. the men cut their way right through the cell wall and steel that was a quarter inch thick.
the escapees then negotiated a maze of underground tunnels and pipes. the prisoners first got their feel of freedom here by the tape. it was the closest we were allowed to get to it. it was pretty bold, because right there is a health club surrounded by homes in this quiet neighborhood. so anyone who might have been outside and might have seen them could have quickly called police. the manhole is just a block and a half from the prison. where new york governor andrew cuomo retraced their steps hours after their disappeared. pictures from the governor's tour of the prison are proof of the elaborate escape. here is how they figured matt and sweat slipped out. once they slipped out of their cell it's believed they moved across the cat walk, eventually dropping down into a series of tunnels.
from there, they broke into a double brick wall, then incredibly cut through a 24-inch steam pipe, working their way through it. about a block away from the prison by then, they cut yet another hole. this time to get out of the pipe. after that they cut right through the chain and lock holding down the manhole cover. >> if there was a rabid tiger running around the neighborhood or a rabid lion or somebody that could kill anybody, these guys are those animals. these two guys are those kind of animals, like rabid animals that could kill anybody at the drop of the hat. >> reporter: a closer look reveals the men were using a type of grate to conceal the hole they were cutting in their cell. the investigation reveals they likely used a hacksaw to conceal the noise, and numerous paint jobs only appeared to disguise the hole. >> the new york and state and
local federal enforcement partners are conducting a full investigation into the escape of these two inmates. >> reporter: the escapees left a message for those coming for them. this yellow post-it note was found on one of the pipes they cut through. dripping with sarcasm, it reads, have a nice day. with a miley face on it. >> sure they are taunting. they are being arrogant. they are going, hey, you stupid idiots weren't watching us close enough and we got out. >> a number of s.w.a.t. units and k-9 to include bloodhounds, even three aerial support two state police helicopters and one from homeland security have been in the air since this event occurred this morning. >> reporter: the urgency was clear -- 35-year-old david sweat and 48-year-old richard matt had killed before. sweat was serving a life sentence without parole for killing a sheriffs deputy back
in 2002. matt had been convicted of three counts of murder, three counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery. he kidnapped his former boss, william rickerson back in 1997 after torturing him for about 24 hours he killed and dismembered him. matt was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. lee bates served time after acting as matt's accomplice in the murder. he testified against him and in a phone interview with anderson cooper, called matt evil. >> if you wanted to take a picture of the devil, that's the face you would see. bates remembering matt shoving a knife sharpener in his victim's ear. >> i have seen him kill. he did kill mr. rickerson, his old boss in my presence in a fit
of rage he reached in to the car, grabbed mr. rickerson by his head and snapped his neck in front of me. >> richard matt had escaped prison before. in 1996, he broke out of an erie county jail to be caught and sentenced to a mx mum security prison in else mmirelmira, new . >> he is a master manipulator that knows the prison system, the streets, street smarts, and is a very cunning and dangerous individual. certainly he planned that just as well as he did back many years ago when he escaped from a prison up here near buffalo. >> reporter: what may have made the escape somewhat easier this time around is the fact that richard matt and david sweat were housed in what's called the honor block at clinton correctional facility, a prison block reserved for inmates who
have gone years without significant disciplinary problems. the honor block has its privileges, like hot plates and refrigerators in cells. here prisoners are also allowed to congregate for hours with fellow inmates which may have given matt and sweat the time they needed to plot their escape. prisoners housed in the honor block are also allowed to wear civilian clothing. instead of the traditional prison garb, which also may have allowed them to blend in easier once on the outside. their good behavior landed richard matt and david sweat jobs in the prison tailor shop. could that be where they accessed the power tools needed to cut their way to freedom? >> it was extraordinary and unusual and almost impossible to duplicate, but we want to find out exactly what happened. one of the big questions is where did the tools come from? >> reporter: to answer that
question, investigators begin to zero in on tailor shop one, where the escapees worked alongside a prison seamstress named joyce mitchell, and the more they look in to joyce mitchell, the plot starts to unravel, complete with sex, betrayal and a plan to murder. you know the importance of heart health. you watch your diet, excercise... and may take an omega-3 supplement, such as fish oil. but when it comes to omega-3s, it's the epa and dha that really matter for heart health. not all omega-3 supplements are the same. introducing bayer pro ultra omega-3 from the heart health experts at bayer. with two times the concentration of epa and dha as the leading omega-3 supplement. plus, it's the only brand with progel technology proven to reduce fish burps. new bayer pro ultra omega-3. get fast-acting, long-lasting relief from heartburn with it neutralizes stomach acid and is the only product
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married to the same man for 14 years. but joyce mitchell had secrets. secrets that have landed her in jail, accused of helping two dangerous felons break free. >> i did many escapees on "america's most wanted" that would have never gotten out if it wasn't for the woman helped them. >> reporter: in this case, authorities say joyce mitchell is the woman who helped richard matt and david sweat with their plan. just how did this wife and mother become involved with two convicted murderers? it started with david sweat. in 2013, sweat was working with in the prison tailor shot when he met and befriended mitchell, a seamstress there. they formed a relationship so close it caught the notice of others at the prison. so they were investigated were having an inappropriate relationship. >> there's no doubt that the
tailor block he was put in and second unit and brought back to the tailor unit but not the one joyce mitchell was in. >> reporter: but as sweat was moved out, richard matt moved in. matt was known as ladies man, who befriended mitchell and took it perhaps further than sweat n. 2013, the two started a sexual relationship according to a source close to the investigation. they would meet and have sex in the tailor shop when no one else was around. all of this time joyce mitchell kept this from her his husband lyle even though he worked in the tailer shop and knew sweat and matt. >> joyce established a pattern of deception. >> former fbi profiler mary ellen o'toole said inmates can be like predators on the lookout for vulnerable prey, who are often women who work in the prison. >> it starts small, asking for her to bring in a candy bar or a
stamp. there's wording that goes along with something like this, only if i had met a woman like you 20 years ago i'd never be in this situation. she would be gullible in believing that. that's something we refer to in the fbi as magical thinking. >> reporter: joyce mitchell told investigators richard matt made her feel special. other reports say she thought it could have been love. but was she in so deep she was willing to risk everything for it? >> i don't know why anybody's surprised. i think that all americans know, crazy, lonely, low self esteem women, woman tried to marry charles manson, the menendez brothers, a woman married the hillside strangler who murdered 17 plus women in l.a. and tortured them with coat hangers. it never seems to amaze me how
women are seduced by these guys. >> reporter: mitchell wasn't just risking her marriage. she was risking her freedom. all the while she was having this relationship with matt, investigators say she was also aware of their escape plot, even giving them tools to help them. investigators say she smuggled in hacksaw blades, chisels, drill bits and other items and delivered them right in to the prisoners' hands and it didn't stop there. authorities say mitchell admitted she was going to drive the getaway car and even had a time and place to meet the prisoners after they made their great escape. this is where they were supposed to meet, this power plant. a few hundred yards away from the manhole where the men emerged from. the power plant smokestack, i'm told is visible from the tailor shop at the prison where the two men worked with joyce mitchell. the d.a. said that smokestack was likely a marker for their meeting place. on the day of the planned getaway, she panicked, saying
she had chest pains and instead of picking up her lover and his fellow fugitive, she went to the hospital with her husband, lyle. meanwhile, the kimmllers are on the loose. >> they have all the time in the world. they are sociopaths. they manipulate women. they got to this woman's low self esteem and got her which is really sad. her life is ruined, totally. they couldn't care less about her. >> joyce mitchell was arrested on a felony charge of providing prison contraband and a misdemeanor charge of criminal facilitation. she pleaded not guilty to both charges. her lawyer said she is distraught, but her story and her possible involvement is far from over. lyle mitchell visited his wife in jail after she was taken in and was confronted outside by abc news with a stunning question. -- what do you make of the reports that she was trying to
have you killed? >> reporter: not only was joyce mitchell allegedly having a sexual relationship with a prisoner and potentially helping them plot their escape, authorities say she was also aware of a plan to have her kuz band, lyle mitchell killed. >> did you know anything about the escape plan in. >> reporter: lyle mitchell has been questioned by police but has not been charged with anything. >> we have no information whatsoever that he had prior knowledge of the escape or that he participated or actively assisted in the escape of the two inmates. >> reporter: his lawyer said he didn't know about any of his wife's activities until he confronted her two days after the escape. that's when she told him the escapees wanted to kill him. lyle was stunned when he heard the details about the affair and murder plot and feels betrayed by his wife. >> i hate to use the cliche but love is blind. >> lyle mitchell said she would not stand behind her anymore
according to his attorney and joyce mitchell remains behind bars. she said she didn't want lyle to be hurt, implying she may have been coerced in to helping the inmates. >> the way i understand it she is on board with the escape plan, still willing to help them out. they have a plan to do harm to lyle. she doesn't agree with that. she doesn't want lyle hurt. they start to threaten her. saying we are going to have someone hurt him any way, we will have someone hurt him in the facility or go to the house. you have to help us out. >> for a woman of many secrets, still some are unknown. the main one, is she telling investigators everything she knows, or does she have more information on where richard matt and david sweat were heading?
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anywhere. >> reporter: but where were they? and what did the prison seamstress, now accused of aiding in their escape, really know? >> what do we know about their plan after they left prison? >> well, she's been consistent. she's been consistent in that it was seven hours from this area. she didn't know whether which it was somewhere in new york, pennsylvania, vermont, canada. if we believe her to be telling the truth on that, then they were keeping her at bay about what their open plan may have been. >> reporter: checkpoints and road blocks were set up as police search for anything out of the ordinary, imploring the public to be on the lookout. >> they could be holed up in a home somewhere, canned food, watching television, nice and cool and dry. >> reporter: lee bates is a former accomplice of richard matt. >> they have something in common that says, we're out and when they catch us we are done.
their mindset is they will probably not be taken alive. >> reporter: alive or not residents on edge. >> state police have been by here without exaggeration, 50 times in the last two or three days. >> reporter: have they asked you any questions? >> yes, they have. if i have seen or heard anything. the answer has been no. >> looks like tracks here. broken pieces down here. we don't know if somebody went through here. if you go down you have a little stream. so follow the stream, nice way out. >> reporter: this woman was checking her attic and basement every night before bed. >> somebody's going to see something somewhere. somebody's going to give it up. >> reporter: in dannemora, investigators concentrated on a perimeter near the prison. four wheelers cut paths through tough terrain, the thick brush made it hard to see. search teams are resorting to other mooe means, like this one,
when the sensors pick up activity they snap a photo. law enforcement also on the hunt from the air. you can see what search teams were up against. so many places for the escapees to hide. 6 million acres of trees and heavy woods. >> easy to hide out here. in the distance, another challenge -- the canadian border. >> we are looking at the vehicles, the individuals, opening trunks, opening backs of doors and things. it is expensive. >> they are escapees may be looking like a place like this to cross the border. they would have an easier time. there are plenty of spots like this one, open areas where you don't need passports or documentation to cross the border. watch this. here i'm standing in the u.s. i keep one foot in the u.s. and put another foot in canada. this is the border right here. or i can simply walk in to
canada, no questions asked. closer to the prison, tips were pouring in. in the village of saranac, investigators believe they were getting close when a resident thought he spotted the two escapees jumping over a stone wall in the backyard. another alleged sighting two men spotted walking in the middle of the night in the pouring rain. another possible lead near the pennsylvania border. and now, possibly the strongest lead yet. another sighting. the witness says a man was running out of a cabn in the woods in franklin county, new york, just 20 miles away from the prison. sources say dna from both men was found inside. could this be the break investigators are looking for? >> no lead is too small for us to investigate. law enforcement is maintaining a strong visible presence in this region. >> reporter: but the fugitives are still on the run. >> neither of them are from this
area. but that does not discount the fact they could not have done research or collaboration or the region in general. we ask the public to remain on alert. take any necessary safety precautions and remain lidvigil and report anything out of the ordinary. >> these people are in need of money to sustain themselves. they are hunkered down right now. they are somewhere. they will have to make a move. at some point they will make a mistake and surface. >> i think their long established history on both of their parts to use violence to live their lives. to use violence because they get upset with somebody, that will ultimately get them caught again. how long before they get caught again is anybody's guess. but investigators remain vigilant and so does the public, tracking down every lead,
anything to return the escapees back here behind bars. until then, richard matt and david sweat will remain on the u.s u.s. marshal most wanted list. reserved for only the most dangerous criminals. i'm randi kaye. thanks for watching. the following is a cnn special report. a model family. >> these are people that really loved each other. this was a really good family. >> living a charmed life. >> they were the perfect example of how you live life. >> until the unthinkable. >> this is one of the worst