Get the best of Monitor journalism in your inbox.

5 months and a hacksaw blade: David Sweat tells his side of prison break story

Escaped and recaptured convict David Sweat denies reports that he used power tools during his escape from Clinton Correctional in Dannemora, N.Y.

Darren McGee/Office of the New York Governor/AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (r.) with Steven Racette (c.), superintendent of Clinton Correctional Facility, looking at a manhole in Dannemora, N.Y., June 6, 2015. Mr. Racette and his deputy in charge of security are among 12 more staff who have been put on administrative leave during the investigation into David Sweat and Richard Matt's escape from the maxiumum-security facility, officials said Tuesday.

An escaped murderer that was captured 22 days after breaking out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., is claiming that he and his partner in crime used only hacksaw blades to cut through steel cell block walls.

It was previously thought that David Sweat and fellow inmate Richard Matt had used power tools taken from contractors’ toolboxes to carve through their cell walls and a steam pipe inside the prison.

Joyce Mitchell, the prison tailor, has admitted to smuggling hacksaw blades hidden in frozen hamburger meat into the prison and then having the meat delivered to Matt by another employee, Gene Palmer. Both employees have been arrested, and officials say 12 more staffers at the New York prison, including the superintendent and his deputy in charge of security, have been put on administrative leave.

From his hospital bed, Mr. Sweat is revealing the details of the escape plan, which he says began in January. According to Sweat, the two convicted killers planned to meet Ms. Mitchell after emerging from a manhole a short distance from the prison. Prosecutors say the fugitives plotted to kill Mitchell’s husband before escaping to Mexico.

This plan was botched when Mitchell didn’t show up, forcing the escapees to improvise on the run and shift course toward Canada. They stayed together for more than two weeks before splitting up, apparently because Sweat felt the older Matt was slowing him down, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Sweat is also telling officials he was the mastermind behind the whole plan, CNN reports. 

Sweat was shot and captured less than 2 miles from the Canadian border on Sunday, two days after Matt was shot three times in the head and killed by law enforcement officers about 30 miles from the prison in upstate New York. Sweat is currently being treated for his wounds at Albany Medical Center, where he is said to be in fair condition.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.