It was exactly one year and one day ago that Richard Matt, the big-dicked murderer, may god rest his soul, escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility alongside his friend David Sweat, the murderer whose dick is of indeterminate size, pictured above. According to a scathing report state investigators released to mark the anniversary, Clinton guards made the two men’s escape much easier than it should have been.
The 154-page report, published by the New York State Inspector General’s Office, gives an exhaustive account of the escape, and you should take a look at its entirety if you’re interested in this sort of thing, or if you just want to take a walk down memory lane. (Remember Tillie? Damn.) It really is a treasure trove of detail. If there’s a one-sentence takeaway, however, it’s probably this one: “Just one properly performed night round during this months-long period would have foiled the escape.”
That bit refers to the fact that Sweat exited his cell through a hole he’d dug in the wall of his cell almost every single night for three months, searching the tunnels underneath the prison for a possible escape route. While he was off exploring, according to the report, the guards on duty either performed their nightly rounds so carelessly that they didn’t notice he’d placed a dummy in his bed as a decoy, or they didn’t perform the rounds at all, falsifying paperwork to make it look like they did. From the report:
Further, on occasions when he and Matt had stayed up into the early morning hours “just painting, just for no reason,” they noticed “a couple of the COs . . . weren’t walking [the rounds].” DOCCS policy requires that officers making rounds must observe “skin and breathing or other movement” for every inmate. Consistent with Sweat’s claim, the Inspector General’s investigation found evidence that many, if not most, night rounds were not conducted at all, or negligently conducted, in the Honor Block. If only one of more than 400 required checks was properly performed during the time Sweat was out of his cell, the escape would have been instantly foiled.
Before exiting his cell each night, Sweat placed a dummy in his bed to deceive officers who might make a round. He fashioned it by stuffing a pair of pants and a hooded sweatshirt. As apparent in the photograph below, although roughly body-like in shape, the dummy lacked any material resembling human flesh, which, as noted, officers conducting rounds are required to observe. Sweat placed the cut-out portion of the wall and its attached air duct in a bin under his bed, and, once out of his cell, reached in from the catwalk and covered the hole with a painting secured by magnets taped to the back of the painting. As evident in the photograph below, the cut-out cell wall section with attached duct is a large object not easily concealed.
Two corrections officers who worked on Matt and Sweat’s block the night of the escape testified about the sorts of things they’d do while on duty:
While both Blair and Renadette stated they never slept during their shift, Blair testified he observed Renadette reclining in his chair or with his feet on the desk in the control room. Blair recalled, “Feet up? Yep. We’d get lazy. You’ll be doing a crossword, whatever, I’ll be reading a book. We get lazy. But we’re still paying attention to what’s going on in the block. . . .”
In a statement emailed to reporters, New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision spokesperson Thomas Mailey said Clinton had beefed up security since the escape, and that his department was reviewing the report’s findings. “Since last June, DOCCS has instituted a number of reforms to strengthen operations at Clinton Correctional Facility, including installing new cameras and security gates, retraining staff, disciplining responsible employees, appointing a new superintendent and replacing other senior administrative personnel,” Mailey wrote. “We are reviewing the Inspector General’s findings and will work with her office to implement her recommendations to improve operations at Clinton and throughout the entire system, and help ensure this incident is never repeated.”
The report is as frankly detailed about the sexcapades between Matt and Joyce “Tillie” Mitchell, the guard who was convicted of providing material assistance to the escapees, as it is about any other facet of the prison break. There’s a whole section entitled “Mitchell and Matt Have Sexual Encounters in the Shop,” which includes an anecdote about Matt doing the “smell my fingers” thing:
Matt, as Sweat had earlier, told Mitchell he had romantic feelings for her. Mitchell testified that Matt told her, “You know I love you.” Over time, Mitchell’s and Matt’s relationship turned sexual. According to Mitchell, one day while she and Matt were alone in the adjoining Tailor Shop 9 to retrieve a machine part, “Matt grabbed me . . . and he kissed me . . . I was scared shitless. . . .” Asked by a State Police investigator, “Scared but excited?” Mitchell responded, “Yeah.” Mitchell claimed that while the encounter meant nothing to her, Matt might have seen it differently. “What makes it a relationship in his [opinion]?” the State Police investigator asked. “Maybe because I didn’t go to anybody and say anything,” Mitchell answered. Mitchell admitted that a second sexual encounter occurred in Tailor Shop 9 not long after the first. In that shop again to retrieve a part, Mitchell stated, she performed oral sex on Matt.
While Mitchell stated that only two incidents of sexual contact occurred in Tailor Shop 9, an inmate testified that Matt and Mitchell entered Tailor Shop 9 for sexual encounters “six, seven, eight times.” According to the inmate, Matt, referring to Mitchell, said, “I’m gonna get that . . . I’m gonna take her in the room, we already talked about it, she’s saying I can, I gotta be quick.” The inmate said Matt asked him to serve as a lookout, and when Matt and Mitchell emerged from Tailor Shop 9, Matt placed his fingers under the inmate’s nose, saying, “Here, smell this.”
Finally, the report addresses the infamous “Have A Nice Day” note the escapees left for their pursuers (the racist Asian caricature had “no particular significance,” according to Sweat), and reveals that the men left another note, with what seems like it might be a mangled Dirty Harry quote:
Both notes, which Sweat said were written by Matt, on printed images of extraterrestrials, stated, “Are You Trying Me Punk?” Sweat said the message was part of a running joke with Matt that started when Sweat used this expression in the tailor shop and Matt found it humorous. Next to the entry hole on the steam pipe, Sweat affixed a third note – a smiley face on which he had written, “Have a Nice Day.” Sweat said another inmate had given him the note several 80 weeks earlier, but stated that its crude caricature of an Asian face had no particular significance. All three notes were held in place by magnets taken from the tailor shops.
You may recall that Matt, the big-dicked murderer, was himself shot and killed by police three weeks after his escape, about 40 miles away from the prison. Sweat was captured, and is back in jail, as is Tillie. They may be gone, but fortunately for us, we’ll always have their story.