Convicted killer in New York prison break on third escape attempt

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How Two New York Murderers Broke Out of Prison

The daring weekend escape from a New York maximum security penitentiary - the facility's first prison break - marked at least the third time convicted murderer Richard Matt has moved to bust out from behind bars.

As authorities searched for a fourth day on Tuesday for Matt, 48, and his fellow convicted killer David Sweat, 34, details emerged showing that the older inmate had twice tried to escape prison, once successfully.

Police investigating his getaway from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, just 20 miles (30 km) from the Canadian border, were questioning a woman who worked in the prison tailor shop where the men had menial jobs. She was identified in various media outlets including ABC News as Joyce Mitchell. According to her Facebook page, Mitchell is an industrial training supervisor at the prison.

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Convicted felons escape NY prison - Manhunt photos - updated 6/28
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Convicted killer in New York prison break on third escape attempt
DUANE, NY - JUNE 28: Correction officers line up for food and beverages at the Duane Fire Department as they take a break after searching a wooded area in the rain for convicted murderer David Sweat on June 28, 2015 near Duane, New York. On Friday Richard Matt, who escaped with Sweat, was shot and killed in the same area. More than 1,000 State Police, Border Patrol, correction officers, FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been searching for the pair since they were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DUANE, NY - JUNE 28: FBI agents cunduct a search for convicted murderer David Sweat on June 28, 2015 near Duane, New York. On Friday Richard Matt, who escaped with Sweat, was shot and killed in the same area. More than 1,000 State Police, Border Patrol, correction officers, FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been searching for the pair since they were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHASM FALLS, NY - JUNE 26: Law enforcement personnel prepare to head out on a search for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat continues on June 26, 2015 in Chasm Falls, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. DNA from the two was reportedly found recently in a remote hunting cabin about 15 miles west of the prison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
New York State Police officer Maj. Charles Guess holds a press conference to brief the media on the status of the manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat on June 26, 2015 in Malone, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. Police believe the fugitives are travelling through wooded areas at night, working their way north toward Canada. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHASM FALLS, NY - JUNE 26: Correction officers search around a home as the manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat continues on June 26, 2015 in Chasm Falls, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. DNA from the two was reportedly found recently in a remote hunting cabin about 15 miles west of the prison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHASM FALLS, NY - JUNE 26: Correction officers search around a home as the manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat continues on June 26, 2015 in Chasm Falls, New York. Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from a prison in nearby Dannemora on June 6. DNA from the two was reportedly found recently in a remote hunting cabin about 15 miles west of the prison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 18: A home is seen near Clinton Correctional Facility on June 18, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. Two convicted murderers were found missing from the prison on June 6, a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres has been taking place since then. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 18: An abandoned building is seen near Clinton Correctional Facility on June 18, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. Two convicted murderers were found missing from the prison on June 6, a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres has been taking place since then. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 17: A section of land, previously closed due to an ongoing manhunt for two escaped convicts, is seen after officials decided to change strategies and reopen the restricted area, on June 17, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. After conducting a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced roads would be reopened and that road blocks would be closed on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 17: Jacob Fountain, age 10, holds on to a blue ribbon, which represents support for law enforcement, while waiting for police officers to drive by, on June 17, 2015 in Dannemora, New York. After conducting a manhunt across approximately 10,000 acres for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced roads would be reopened and that road blocks would be closed on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 17: Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie speaks at a press conference on June 17, 2015 in Plattsburgh, New York. After conducting a man hunt for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced the end of road blocks on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 17: Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie speaks at a press conference on June 17, 2015 in Plattsburgh, New York. After conducting a man hunt for two escaped convicts who were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6, officials announced the end of road blocks on major routes going into Dannemora, where the prison is located. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 15: A helicopter searches for two escaped convicts on June 15, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted murderers escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility during the early morning hours of June 6; officials have been conducting a manhunt for the two since. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 15: New York State Troopers check civilian cars at a check point on June 15, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. Two convicted murderers escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility during the early morning hours of June 6; officials have been conducting a manhunt for the two since. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: Police officers check automobiles for two escaped convicts at a mandatory check point June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. A manhunt has been underway since the two convicted killers were found missing from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on the morning of June 6. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 16: A task force of U.S. Marshalls and police officers go door to door searching for two escaped convicts on June 16, 2015 outside Dannemora, New York. The two convicted killers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, were found missing from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the morning of June 6 and law enforcement are on a multi-state manhunt for their capture. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area in Cadyville, New York June 13, 2015. Officials announced the arrest yesterday of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARANAC, NY - JUNE 13: Department of Corrections officers work a roadblock on June 13, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Law enforcement announced the arrest yesterday of prison worker Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for the two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
DANNEMORA, NY - JUNE 13: A manhole used by two prisoners who escaped the Clinton Correctional Facility on June 13, 2015 in Dannemora, New York. Law enforcement announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 13, 2015 in Cadyville, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARAN, NY - JUNE 14: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 14, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Officials announced the arrest yesterday of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARANAC, NY - JUNE 13: Department of Corrections officers work a roadblock on June 13, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Law enforcement announced the arrest yesterday of prison worker Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for the two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
WEST PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 14: A law enforcement officer works a checkpoint June 14, 2015 in West Plattsburgh, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, June 13, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 13, 2015 in Cadyville, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
WEST PLATTSBURGH, NY - JUNE 14: A law enforcement officer works a checkpoint June 14, 2015 in West Plattsburgh, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, June 13, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
CADYVILLE, NY - JUNE 13: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 13, 2015 in Cadyville, New York. Officials announced the arrest of Joyce Mitchell as they continued their search for two prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt, who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correctional Facility nearly a week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
SARAN, NY - JUNE 14: Law enforcement personnel search an area June 14, 2015 in Saranac, New York. Officials announced the arrest yesterday of Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, as they continued their search for two prisoners who escaped the maximum security section of the Clinton Correction Facility one week ago. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
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As New York State Police led a manhunt from Canada to Mexico, police spokesman Beau Duffy would not comment on whether anyone was being questioned.

Meanwhile, Matt's only son told the Buffalo News that his father had a history of prison escapes.

"He has escaped before," Nicholas Harris, 23, of Angola, New York, was quoted as saying.

Matt fled upstate New York's Erie County Correctional Facility in 1986. He scaled a wall and gate topped with razor wire that slashed his forearms and remained on the loose for five days before he was caught at a family apartment in Tonawanda, New York, near Buffalo, his son told the newspaper.

'IT'S LIKE THEY CAN'T KILL HIM'

A decade later, to avoid arrest for the 1997 torture, murder and dismemberment of his boss in Tonawanda, Matt fled to Mexico, where he was soon locked up for a fatal barroom fight. He tried to escape, making it to the roof of a Mexican prison before he was shot in the shoulder, his son told the newspaper.

"This guy has bullet holes on his body. He's been shot like nine times. It's like they can't kill him," Harris was quoted as saying in the Buffalo News.

Matt was eventually convicted in the beating death of his boss, William Rickerson, in a trial that took place under heightened court security, with a police sniper posted outside the courthouse and Matt forced to wear an electric stun belt.

The 6-foot tall, 210-pound (1.8-metre, 95-kg) convict, whose tattoos included "MexicoForever" on his back, was serving a sentence of 25 years to life when he was discovered missing with Sweat, his neighboring cellmate, early Saturday.

Their escape - the first in the prison's 170-year history - involved cutting through the steel walls at the back of their adjoining cells, crawling through a steam pipe, and eventually emerging from a manhole in a residential community. They left behind a note reading "Have a nice day."

Two residents said they spotted the fugitives in their back yard at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, ABC News reported. They were holding what appeared to be a guitar case, which other media reported was kept in one inmate's cell and may have been used to hide tools used in the escape.

"We're just lost. We don't know where we are. We're on the wrong street," the resident told ABC News the men responded when confronted.

That encounter occurred about five hours before guards realized the pair was gone.

Law enforcement officers who have tracked Matt in the past describe him as devious and calculating. The two inmates had managed to maintain good enough behavior to gain a place on the prison's "honor block," where looser restrictions allowed them to wear and keep clothing other than their prison uniforms.

The green prison uniforms were found in a pipe the men used to climb out of the manhole, according to several media reports.

Sweat, who is 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 meters) tall, 165 pounds (75 kg), and has tattoos including "Rebel" on his left arm, was serving a life sentence after his conviction in the shooting death of a Broome County Sheriff's deputy on July 4, 2002.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Additional reporting by Katie Reilly; Editing by Scott Malone and Doina Chiacu)

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