Body of escaped killer Richard Matt claimed by son, family says

Jul 2, 2015 12:28 PM by News Staff

The body of convicted killer Richard Matt, who led police on a three-week manhunt after a brazen prison escape, has been claimed by his estranged son, CBS News has learned.

Nicholas Harris and his mother, Vee Harris, claimed the body, she told CBS News, but it was unclear when it happened. She said the body would be transported back to the Buffalo, New York area Thursday for a private funeral.

Matt, along with David Sweat, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, in far upstate New York, on June 6, and apparently remained in the wooded area near the Canadian border. Their escape began to unravel when Matt was shot and killed in Malone, N.Y., on June 26 by a Border Patrol officer during a confrontation with authorities.

Sweat was shot and wounded and taken into custody two days later, then transported to an Albany, N.Y., hospital, where he was listed in fair condition Wednesday.

Nick Harris earlier told CBS Buffalo affiliate WIVB-TV he believes his father's death was wrongful because agents shot him three shots times in the head.

Harris said he never knew his father very well because Matt had been incarcerated since Harris was very young.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat and Matt had several close calls, including hearing the voices of people nearby when they were hiding in a hunting cabin, CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports.

Sweat also told police that after the two split up, Sweat hid in a tree stand used by hunters and saw a law enforcement officer walk right by him, Werner reports.

Sweat is also providing more details to investigators about how the pair escaped from the prison.

Wylie confirmed that Sweat told police he never used power tools, only a hacksaw blade to cut through steel cell block walls and steam pipes.

Officials say two employees of the prison, Joyce Mitchell, a tailor shop instructor and Gene Palmer, a guard, aided Matt and Sweat in their escape.

Mitchell, 51, was arraigned on the felony charge of promoting prison contraband and misdemeanor count of criminal facilitation, authorities said. Police believe Mitchell smuggled the tools to the escapees with the understanding that the convicts would kill her husband. She had also agreed to be their getaway driver, but didn't show up, leaving the men to try to elude capture on foot.

Palmer was charged with promoting prison contraband, tampering with evidence and official misconduct. Police believed he played a role in getting the tools to Matt and Sweat, but he told investigators he had no knowledge of the escape plans.

He waived his right to a preliminary hearing, clearing the way for potential grand jury action.

Also, the FBI is investigating a possible drug ring at the Clinton Correctional Facility, stemming from the probe into the prison breakout. In addition, the superintendent at the prison has been placed on leave along with his security chief and 10 other staff members.

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