Escaped murderer Richard Matt was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent Friday after he and fellow escapee David Sweat tried to carjack a camper vehicle, law-enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast. The camper's driver called 911 and authorities finally caught up to the men since they broke out of prison on June 6.
Matt was shot in the vicinity of Lake Titus, approximately 10 miles west of Owl’s Head, where police said Monday they had found evidence that Matt and Sweat had broken into a cabin this week.
Days before, a man checking on his hunting camp — owned by a group of corrections officers — saw someone run out of the back. A jug of water, an opened peanut butter jar, boots, toiletries and bloody socks were discovered at the camp, the Plattsburgh Press-Republican reported. Police identified the DNA on the items as belonging to the men.
Tim LaRocque, the camp's caretaker, told The Daily Beast he was napping when his wife walked in and together they heard the shot he believes felled Matt. “I’m in my bedroom about a quarter to three,” he said. “I got up when I heard a shot,” he said. And his wife heard it too. “She came to wake me up and yelled, ‘They’ve been shooting out there.’”
Initially, the 49-year-old man, who has worked there for over four years, thought it was a hunter bagging game. “We do most of the shooting out here, so hearing some gunshots don’t mean nothing,” he said.
After law enforcement essentially laid siege to the swampy, green acreage across from LaRocque’s home he realized the shot had been meant for Matt.
“I figured it out after, that it was the ones they were looking for,” he said.
His property and virtually everywhere around him had become a warzone resulting from the tireless manhunt. “This has been going on for three or four days,” he said. “We knew they were up here and they had them pretty well boxed in too.”
A trail camera outside of nearby Whippleville took a photo of the two men this week, law-enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast. Authorities had asked hunters to deploy the cameras now instead of waiting until August, when they are normally placed ahead of deer-hunting season, which begins on October 1. The camera photographed both men and showed Matt holding a shotgun. Trail cameras are silent and it’s believed that the two men did not know they had been seen. Photographic evidence, including a time-stamp, helped authorities refine their search.
However, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said in an evening news conference that the last positive sighting of Sweat was "at the time of his escape," indicating that perhaps only Matt was photographed by the trail camera. The Washington Post reported that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "We don’t have anything to confirm where Mr. Sweat is at this time.”
Matt and Sweat were on the lam since guards at Clinton Correctional realized they were missing during a routine check. The elaborate break involved using power tools to cut through a steel wall, reach a six-story catwalk and a maze of tunnels before exiting through a manhole some distance from the prison walls. The criminals stuffed their bedsheets to make it appear they were asleep and left behind a sticky note with a racist Asian caricature that read, “Have a nice day.”
Their criminal records are chilling. Matt was convicted for kidnapping, killing and dismembering his boss in 1997 before fleeing to Mexico — where he fatally stabbed an American and was serving a 20-year sentence. At one point, Matt even threatened to kill his own half-brother if he refused to do his bidding.
In 2007, U.S. Marshals collecting a drug kingpin from Mexico got another surprise. Mexican prison officials said Matt was so awful they were “giving him back,” according to the Niagara Gazette. A year later, Matt was put on trial in New York, where authorities installed electrodes under his suit and placed a sniper on the roof in case he fled.
Meanwhile, David Sweat was serving a life sentence for the cold-blooded murder of Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Tarsia. Sweat and two accomplices had returned from burglarizing a Pennsylvania weapons store in July 2002 and drove to a local park in Kirkwood, New York. Around 3:30 am., the 36-year-old cop got out of his squad car and approached them. Sweat sprayed him with bullets before running him over with his car. One of Sweat’s buddies then shot the wounded Tarsia in the head, killing him.
On the fourth day of the manhunt, authorities were eyeing prison tailor-shop supervisor Joyce Mitchell in connection with the escape. The 51-year-old mother was arrested days later and confessed to helping the killers flee. She planned to be their getaway driver but got cold feet and drove herself to the hospital for an anxiety attack, police said.
Mitchell reportedly had sex with Matt and Sweat in the penitentiary — even though her husband Lyle was a maintenance worker there. The prison previously investigated Mitchell after receiving a complaint about her sexual relations with Sweat, but officials didn’t have enough evidence to take action against her.
The cuckolded husband said he believed Joyce Mitchell’s assurances that she never had sex with the murderers. “She swore on her son's life that definitely, ‘Never have I ever had sex’ [with Matt or Sweat],” Lyle Mitchell told NBC News.
Matt — sweet talker known for drawing Oprah portraits — gave Joyce Mitchell pills to knock out her husband. “She said, ‘I love my husband, I am not hurtin’ him.’ She said, ‘Then I knew I was over my head," Lyle Mitchell recalled.
Investigators said Mitchell smuggled hacksaw blades and drill bits into frozen hamburger meat, which she stored in a tailor shop refrigerator. Fellow corrections employee Gene Palmer, who along with a third worker was placed on administrative leave, then delivered the contraband to Matt’s and Sweat’s cells.
The cons lived on the prison’s honor block, which permitted TVs, refrigerators and hotplates in cells, along with other perks not enjoyed by the general population. The special privileges likely played a part in their escape. (Since the breakout, officials shut down Clinton Correctional’s honor block, the Albany Times Union reported.)
For three weeks, authorities chased hundreds of leads and expanded their search to Vermont, Mexico and Canada, which is 20 miles north of the prison. Meanwhile the U.S. Marshals Service put the fugitives on its 15 Most Wanted list, a placement only for the “worst of the worst,” an official told CNN.