Richard William Matt
June 25, 1966
Tonawanda, New York, U.S.
|Died||June 26, 2015 (aged 49)|
Malone, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Prison escape, convicted murderer|
|Country||United States, Mexico|
Richard Matt and his older brother Robert who was born one year older were raised in Tonawanda, New York, a suburb of Buffalo where they began receiving foster care early in life. His biological father, Robert Matt was a repeat criminal who had multiple convictions on offenses including assault, burglary, issuing bad checks and criminal possession of stolen property and is now believed to be dead. His foster father, Vern Edin and his wife were well known in the community for giving foster care to children, and enrolled them in Little League Baseball. They have since died. Matt had behavioral issues in school, which included a reputation for "terroriz[ing] kids on the [school] bus". In his early teens, he was sent to a group home, but escaped by riding on a stolen horse.
Early criminal career
Matt had a distaste for legitimate work and consequently compiled a lengthy criminal history. His brother Robert also had a criminal history, being arrested four times between 1985-1989 for crimes including burglary, larceny and assault. The two brothers were never known to have committed crimes together. He was seen as a low-grade criminal mostly involved in thefts and burglaries until he got involved with drugs and developed a reputation for violence. He was used as a criminal informer for several years in the 1980s.
On December 3, 1997, Richard Matt and his accomplice Lee Bates kidnapped his 72-year-old former boss, William Rickerson, in his North Tonawanda home. After attacking him, Matt forced Rickerson into the trunk of Bates' car. Matt believed Rickerson had access to a large sum of money and demanded to know its location. They drove for more than 24 hours with Rickerson in the trunk to Ohio and back, periodically stopping to beat him. Later, Matt broke Rickerson's neck with his bare hands. He then dismembered the body and threw the parts into a river and fled New York State to avoid capture.
After fleeing, Matt crossed the U.S.-Mexican border and entered the city of Matamoros. On February 20, 1998, Matt murdered Charles Arnold Perreault, an American engineer employed at Ranco de Mexico, a local factory. According to news reports, Matt and Perreault were in a bar, and when Perreault went to the restroom, Matt stabbed him nine times in the back and abdomen in an attempt to rob him of $300 USD.
After assaulting Perreault, Matt attempted to flee the scene of the crime, but was apprehended by police shortly after. Matt provided the name of his half-brother, Wayne M. Schimpf, when questioned by the officers. Matt was convicted of murder in a Mexican court and received a 23-year sentence. In 2007, he was extradited back to the United States, where Bates, who pled guilty to a lesser charge, testified against him for Rickerson's murder; Matt received the maximum 25 years to life in prison.
In June 1986, he climbed a fence to escape from the Erie County Correctional Facility, where he was serving a one-year sentence for assault. According to retired Tonawanda policeman David Bently, Matt evaded police for four days, hopping a freight train to his brother's house in Tonawanda where he was ultimately apprehended.
In 1991, Matt convinced fellow prisoner David Telstar to pay $15,000 bail to get him released while awaiting trial for rape and assault. Matt then informed on Telstar, who pleaded guilty to promising Matt an additional $100,000 in a murder-for-hire scheme. Matt did not receive a reduced sentence for informing.
Prior to 2007, Matt nearly escaped from a prison in Mexico, climbing to the roof before being shot by guards. According to his son, "He's been shot like nine times. It's like they can't kill him." Matt was turned over to U.S. authorities in 2007. According to court reporter Rick Pfeiffer, the Mexican government placed him without explanation on a plane with a drug kingpin they had agreed to extradite because he had "been such a difficult prisoner."
During his trial for the murder of Rickerson, authorities suspected he had a plan to escape from Niagara County Jail. Matt was made to wear a stun belt and snipers were posted outside the courtroom to prevent his escape.
Clinton Correctional escape
On June 6, 2015, while serving a 25 years to life sentence for Rickerson's murder, the 48-year-old Matt and 34-year-old David Sweat executed an elaborate escape from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York and became the subjects of a trans-national manhunt. The escape, which has been compared to Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption and brought New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to survey their escape route, involved the use of tools to tunnel out of the facility to an "external breach" approximately 500 feet (150 m) outside of the prison wall. The two men had first earned privileged housing in Honor Block, a unit with larger cells available only to prisoners with years without a disciplinary infraction.
Prior to the escape, he traded artwork of famous people with a prison guard.
On June 26, 2015, Matt was shot and killed by U.S. Border Patrol Supervisory Agent Chris Voss in Franklin County, New York, near the town of Malone. An autopsy indicated Matt had a blood alcohol level of 0.18%. Sweat was caught 2 days later. Sweat began to run and an officer shot him twice, one in his right shoulder and the other in his left arm.
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- NBC (June 11, 2015). "Prison Worker Joyce Mitchell Being Questioned in Connection With Brazen Escape". Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- New York Times (June 25, 2015). "New York Prison Escapee Traded Art for Favors From a Guard". Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- New York Post (June 11, 2015). "Escaped murderer Richard Matt shot and killed by police". Retrieved July 2, 2015.
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- "Autopsy: NY prison escapee was drunk when killed in forest". Yahoo! News.
- Demola, Pete (June 26, 2015). "New York prison escapee killed by police, accomplice still at large". Reuters. Retrieved July 2, 2015.