Escaped Murderer Richard Matt Was Drunk When Shot by Officers After 3-Week Manhunt: Officials

The escaped murderer shot and killed by law enforcement officers in late June after a three-week manhunt through miles of difficult terrain in New York was drunk at the time of his death, according to toxicology results released Wednesday.

Richard Matt had a blood alcohol content of 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent at the time of his death.

Matt was shot June 26 after he pointed a 20-gauge shotgun at Customs and Border Patrol officers who found him while sweeping a wooded area in Malone, the Franklin County town to which authorities had narrowed their search following the discovery of DNA evidence in a cabin.

Matt died of severe skull fractures and brain injuries from multiple gunshots to the head, an autopsy found. His fellow escapee, David Sweat, was shot and captured two days later. He was treated in a hospital and later transferred to the infirmary at the Five Points Correctional Facility in the central New York town of Romulus, where he was to spend 23 hours per day in a cell.

Matt and Sweat escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora June 6. They cut through their adjoining cell walls over months, climbed down catwalks to tunnels and broke through a brick wall. They then cut into a steam pipe and cut a chain holding a manhole cover outside the prison to get away, authorities said.

The duo split up after they disagreed over whether to hole up in a hunting cabin; Matt wanted to stay there because it had alcohol, heat and water. He said if anyone found them, he and Sweat could take the person hostage or kill the person. Sweat worried about being captured and wanted to move.

Sweat has been giving authorities details of the escape. Police now know about 85 percent of the winding route the two convicted killers took while on the run though the heavily wooded area west of the prison in far upstate New York. Investigators have identified five to six hunting camps the men broke into, usually being selective in what they took so as not to tip off cabin owners of a break-in.

The investigation reached a milestone last week with a guilty plea from former prison worker Joyce Mitchell on charges of aiding the pair by smuggling hacksaw blades and other tools used in their escape. In statements Mitchell made to police, she said she became "caught up in the fantasy" of the elaborate breakout planned by the two killers but backed out at the last moment.

She said she also was supposed to get money from a package she never picked up as part of preparations that were to include taking a cellphone, a GPS device, cloths, a gun, tents, sleeping bags, fishing poles and other gear to the planned rendezvous with Matt and Sweat.

Mitchell also told investigators that Matt had given her two pills to drug her husband as part of the escape plan.

Authorities have said a prison guard unwittingly helped the inmates when he gave them frozen meat in which Mitchell had hidden tools, but they don't believe he knew of the escape plan. The guard was arrested on charges including promoting prison contraband.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us