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tv   Nightline  ABC  June 12, 2015 12:37am-1:08am PDT

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this is "nightline." >> tonight, killers on the run. a six-day manhunt and a trail of clues left behind by these fugitives. with towns on both sides of the canadian bored over edge what we're learning now about these escaped convicts' past. why they're considered extremely dangerous. and the female prison worker who may have been their accomplice. life of lebron. the love/hate relationship between lebron james and his home fans. with the championship in sight how he's winning back cleveland's heart and killing it both on and off the court thanks to multi-million dollar endorsements and gold kicks. and v-i-privacy. jen lawrence to katy perry, many celebrities hate being swarmed by paparazzi at the airport.
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tonight, bloodhounds, helicopters, hundreds of law enforcement personnel hunting for two murderers now spending their sixth night on the run. abc's gio benitez is on the scene of the prison break with the latest clues as investigators question whether a female prison employee agreed to help the convicted killers get away. >> bloodhounds did pick up a scent this morning and they were pursuing a scent. >> reporter: it's been six days since convicted killers richard matt and david sweat escaped from clinton correctional prison in upstate new york. as confident as governor cuomo may have sounded the scent could be growing cold. >> they could be literally anywhere. >> reporter: tonight an entire town cordoned off, roadblocks, police checking every car. only residents allowed in. more than 500 officers now involved in this massive manhunt. focusing on an area just miles from the prison. schools today shut down. >> at this time we are remaining in the area until we have conducted a thorough search. we're looking underneath every rock behind every tree and
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inside every structure until we catch these two. >> reporter: investigators are searching these dense woods by ground and by air. launching helicopters to get that critical birdseye view. all to find those prisoners. miles and miles of dark forest the perfect hiding place. they are the first prisoners to escape from the maximum security unit of this prison in over 100 years. the two men each serving life terms for murder. >> be on the lookout for two escapees from clinton county correction facilities. >> reporter: it began last saturday morning. officials say the men were last seen in their adjoining cells at 10:30 p.m. friday night for bed check and reported missing at bed check the following morning at 5:30 a.m. leaving this note behind reading, have a nice day. in their empty beds clothing was arranged to make it look like someone was sleeping. police say sweat and matt used power tools to drill through a wall and work their way down four stories, shimmying through 24-inch pipes, after climbing
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through a series of catwalks and pipes they walked 300 to 400 yards down a tunnel coming to a manhole they sawed open with their tools. >> what is the most troubling fact is they needed power tools to do what they actually did. they were heard, they had to be heard. >> reporter: the man howl was only one block from the prison walls. just after 12:30 a.m. a logical resident tells us he saw the two convicts in his backyard. >> so what did you say? you immediately yelled something at them. >> well i first came around the side of the building. of my house. i saw the shadow running away from it. so i went around to see who they were because i want to know who is in my backyard. so i go look at them and i see them -- i ask them what the hell are you doing in my yard? get the hell out of here. and he was like sorry, i didn't know where i was, i'm on the wrong street. >> now once you know who it was that you saw, what do you think? >> lucky to be alive, man. like, they could have done anything.
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like they could have jacked my car and -- you know. you never know. i mean, they're criminals, so. >> i was just in shock. i couldn't believe it. >> reporter: police did not begin their search until a full five hours later. giving david sweat and richard matt a critical head start. during those five hours, if in fact they left the area law enforcement was in basically spinning their wheels. they were looking for two people that were not in the area anymore. and that's the whole key in giving yourself a lead. >> reporter: just hours after the break, new york governor andrew cuomo came to the prison to retrace the two men's escape route. >> must have kept you awake with all that cutting, huh? >> when you look at how it was done it was extraordinary. i mean we went through the tunnels. you look at the precision of the operation. it was truly extraordinary. and unusual. and almost impossible to duplicate. but we want to find out exactly what happened. and one of the big questions is where did the tools come from? >> reporter: construction work was being done at the inmates'
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cell block at the clinton correctional facility. but no missing tools have been reported. sources tell us investigators have questioned joyce tilly mitchell a 51-year-old prison employee, about her possible involvement. >> she was befriended or she befriended the inmates and may have had some sort of role in assisting them. >> reporter: sources say in the past year prison officials investigated whether mitchell, who supervises the prison's tailor shop had a relationship with one of the escapees but concluded there was not enough evidence. sources say police are now investigating whether she had agreed to meet the prisoners to drive a getaway car but instead checked herself into a hospital complaining of a panic attack. >> if you believe the joyce mitchell version of this case where she was supposed to be the getaway driver the presumption would be they popped their head out of the manhole cover within you know sight of the prison. and no joyce, no car. and so at that point, they're sort of lost. how are they going to get out of
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the area? >> reporter: but her son came to her defense, speaking to nbc news. >> she is not the kind of person that's going to risk her life or other people's lives to let these guys escape from prison. >> reporter: one of the escapee's sons speaking out, claiming he does not fear his father. >> i don't think he's coming here. or targeting me at all. i mean with all these news cars here would you come here? >> reporter: for others who knew richard matt well a different story. >> he's extremely dangerous. >> reporter: a former accomplice of richard matt who testified against him for torturing and killing his boss in 1997. the accomplice asking not to be shown on camera as he fears he'll be targeted. >> he's very evil. i've seen what he can do. >> reporter: both men are serving life terms for murder. richard matt for kidnapping and killing his former boss. david sweat for killing sheriff's deputy kevin tarsia. for his fiancee, the escape has been traumatic. >> i was in shock when i heard that they -- that david sweat
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had escaped from state prison maximum security. it was very shocking. it brought back all the memories and all the thoughts and the terrible horrific torture that they have inflicted on kevin. >> these guys are dangerous. these guys are two guys that are as dangerous as you're going to get. >> reporter: martin horn is a former commissioner of the new york city department of correction an expert on what happens inside prisons. >> it's spiral possible over the years these guys have been in prison that they worked on some sort of a maintenance detail because prisons like clinton use the prisoners to help to maintain the prison. everything from painting the walls to fixing the leaks to rewiring an electrical socket. and so they may well have actually been in the pipe chase area that everybody seems to be so fascinated with. >> reporter: the prison's isolation giving it the nickname "little siberia." once home to famous inmates like lucky luciano, and tupac shakur it is located 20 miles from the
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canadian border where authorities are also on the lookout. >> they should stop them at the border. so no way of getting worried more than we have to. >> reporter: in fact police are following up on over 600 tips. from as far away as philadelphia. >> they could either be four miles from the prison or they could be in mexico. you just don't know. >> reporter: for one convict's mom, there's only one place she says he should be. >> back in prison. before you get hurt. i love you. and get back where you belong. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm gio benitez, new york. alley-oop! >> up next how lebron james is going after one of the most coveted titles in the world -- best basketball player of all-time. from plane to porsche. the brand-new service that promises to save celebs from the indignities of the awkward airport shot. . unfortunately, many people who spread it
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you know the cleveland cavaliers may be nba underdogs right now but they're being led by a top dog. in fact he might just be one for the record books. it seems everything king james touches turns to gold. you know it may not be taught in schools just yet but tonight we're taking a look at le lebron-onimics. could the lebron effect become more valuable than michael jordan himself? >> james backs in lays it up. >> reporter: in a game defined by superstars -- >> james drives, pulls up -- >> reporter: lebron james continues to shine the brightest. just not enough tonight to pull out a victory.
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>> spins, baseline. james goes down. >> reporter: slowed by a tumble into courtside cameras and a gash on his head. it seems everyone knows his resume. two nba championships. four mvp awards. two olympic golds. and just 30 years old. he's far from finished. the king's performance in these nba finals igniting a debate few sports fans in their wildest dreams thought possible. >> james! >> what he's doing right now has been amazing. >> reporter: are we watching king james unseat his airness as the greatest basketball player of all-time? >> no absolutely not. michael jordan magic johnson, bill russell, kareem abdul-jabbar abdul-jabbar. lebron james is moving up the list on the top ten, but it's not a diss at all to not be in front of all those all-time greats. >> lebron james! >> reporter: debate aside, everyone can agree right now lebron seems to be single-handedly keeping the underdog cavs competitive in the
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nba finals. >> i'm just trying to do whatever it takes at this point. and being undermatched, being undermanned, being counted out, everything is against us right now. we don't have nothing to lose. >> reporter: and with each virtuoso performance against the golden state warriors, the city of cleveland feeling a little less pain. >> i want to take my talents to south beach. >> reporter: those heartbreaking words, a devastating betrayal from the hometown hero they rooted for since he was a boy. the superstar young phenom from akron, ohio gracing the cover of "sports illustrated" before he could even vote. >> oh, what a move by james! we've got a three-point ball game! >> reporter: his journey to state championships and the pros chronicled in the documentary "more than a game." a team performing under the pressure of bright lights and a big stage. and reveling in every second of it. >> number 6!
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>> reporter: which is why his decision to bolt for the sandy beaches and palm trees of south florida cut so deep with cleveland fans. >> i don't blame the cleveland cavalier fans. i probably would have felt the exact same way. so i get it. >> what does this mean for cleveland? >> we're in trouble. big trouble. >> it's cleveland, we're used to disappointment. >> reporter: the backlash so intense, lebron and his key endorser nike thought they needed to do damage control. >> what should i do? >> reporter: releasing this ad. >> what should i do? should i tell you i'm a championship chaser? in it for the money, rings? should i accept my role as a villain? maybe she just disappear. >> from akron, ohio, number 6 -- lebron james! >> reporter: as much as cleveland fans might have wanted lebron to disappear, that wasn't going to happen. on the court, winning nba championships in miami in 2012 -- >> the 2012 nba title will reside in miami! >> it's about damn time. >> reporter: and again in 2013.
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turning into one of the most marketable athletes on the planet. raking in an estimated $60 million last year in part as a master salesman. >> keep it close. >> you got it mister lebron james. >> reporter: kia. >> right here. >> reporter: sprite. >> now it's gone. >> reporter: and of course his line of basketball shoes. that made nike over $340 million last year. his impact even has a nickname. lebron-onomics. for the money, glitz and celebrity accompanying the arrival of a king it wasn't just titles in miami. the economic impact was noticeable. heat ticks sold out immediately. merchandise flew off the shelves. some felt lebron influenced the real estate market. >> no other property has done better than other properties in south florida. some credit lebron some don't.
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>> reporter: even after winning in miami lebron wasn't satisfied. there was unfinished business back in ohio. >> i'm going to do what makes my city and my state happy. and that's why i came back. i love you. i'm back. >> reporter: his return celebrated as the second coming. >> the cavs baby! >> reporter: and with it help revitizing that struggling rust belt city. >> it is certainly in the hundreds of millions of dollars. there is no question that there is substantial incremental revenue coming to the city of cleveland, northeast ohio the state of ohio for that matter. because of the success of the cavaliers, which is obviously driven by lebron. >> reporter: in downtown cleveland, the la been effect -- >> let's go, cavs! >> reporter: seems to be working for the cle clothing company. >> sales are really booming. we've had the best year that
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we've ever had for sure. >> reporter: for laura and mike kovinsky sales at their family-run company are up 500%. >> everybody in cleveland is just so excited that the cavs have a chance to win a championship. it means everything to the city. >> reporter: and everything to lebron. all the money, endorsements accolades seem less important tonight than winning the championship. >> the impact on the psyche of this town is immeasurable. you talk about the ultimate prodigal son story. hollywood ending story. the cavs pull this off, and it will be a story for the ages. >> where do you think lebron james ranks among the all-time basketball greats? head to our "nightline" facebook page and let us know. next feeling like a mess after your flight? well you could put a bag over your head. or you could splurge on the brand-new celebrity-friendly service that turns privacy into a luxury commodity.
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>> naibs news "nightline." brought to you by macy's.
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