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David Sweat

David Sweat Mugshot

The arrest of David Sweat:

It was an unbelievable story from the very start, with almost immediate analogies to the popular prison break movie "The Shawshank Redemption."

Two convicted killers, Richard Matt (left) and David Sweat (right)…

Richard Matt and David Sweat

…escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora, New York.

Clinton Correctional Facility

They were discovered missing on a Saturday morning bed check on June 6, and there was early evidence that they used power tools to bust out. How did this happen? And more important, how quickly could these very dangerous characters be recaptured?

Matt, who'd escaped incarceration before, had been convicted of killing his boss.


David Sweat

…shot and killed a police officer and then ran over the dying man's body. The people living near the prison had a right to be scared.

Then, as the investigation deepened, startling news came out. A woman working in the prison tailor shop, Joyce Mitchell…

Joyce Mitchell

…admitted slipping the tools, including hacksaw blades embedded in meat, which the two escapees used. Both of them had been slipping something to her in the weeks and months ahead. The plan was that she would meet her two lovers with her car. They'd kill her husband and all three would go to Mexico where they would live together, according to New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Joyce Mitchell, sweat and Matt

But the plan failed, because she didn't show up at the rendezvous point – a manhole a few blocks from the prison. She later said she decided she loved her husband and didn't want him killed (He said after visiting her in prison he would not stand by her, regardless.) Authorities later said the woman's decision not to show up on escape night probably saved her life, speculating they were just using her and they would have killed her too!

The two escapees had to run for it, heading north to Canada instead of south to Mexico. They were in missing for almost three weeks. They were well equipped with camouflage clothing designed for the woods. And may have stolen clothing or other supplies from a cabin in Mountain View, New York.

There were a few mid-way breaks, like one of the men's DNA found in a hunting cabin, where Matt stole a rifle. That proved to be part of his undoing. At about the three week mark of the escape drama, Matt was spotted by a border agent with the weapon and was shot dead in Malone, New York when he didn't give it up.

A few days later, Sweat was arrested walking down a street on Sunday afternoon in Constable, New York.

David Sweat being captured

He too was shot, even though unarmed, when he tried to escape back into the heavily treed woods. He underwent surgery and was hospitalized, and began talking to the police.

It turns out that they started planning to bust out in January and held a practice run the night before the actual prison break, They'd cut through steam pipes and made it all the way out to a manhole cover before turning back. They felt that manhole wasn't isolated enough and decided to escape through a different manhole.

Once they were out, struggling to stay free, Sweat found that the older Matt was slowing him down, and after two weeks ditched him.

Criminologists doubt whether Sweat would go back to the Clinton prison, saying he'd never be safe there, because he spilled the beans on some of the other things happening there, including drug trafficking.

After the details of the embarrassing incident came to light, the prison superintendent and deputy superintendent were placed on paid leave and a new warden was named. Another prison employee, Gene Palmer…

Gene Palmer

…was arrested for delivering the meat to the prisoners but Palmer denied knowing weapons were buried in it. Other guards are being investigated to see if they were sleeping on the job the night Matt and Sweat broke out.

In late July, less than two months after the dramatic break-out, Joyce Mitchell was in court, and admitted providing hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch tool and screwdriver to Matt.

She pleaded guilty to promoting prison contraband in the first degree and fourth degree criminal facilitation.

The hammer fell for Mitchell on September 28th when the former prison seamstress was sentenced for up to seven years in prison for her role in the escape. She tearfully told the court that if she could take it back, she would -- and that she would regret her actions for the rest of her life.

Prosecutors also wanted her to pay $120,000 to repair the prison walls the escapees broke through, which her lawyer objected to.

Finally, in early February, 2016, Sweat - a convicted killer already serving life behind bars - was sentenced to additional prison time of seven to 14 years and ordered to pay nearly $80,000 in restitution for his escape.

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