PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Two killers on the run from a northern New York prison for three weeks disagreed over whether to hole up in a hunting cabin — one worried about being captured while the other suggested they could kill or take hostage anyone who checked on the remote camp, state police said.
State Police Maj. Charles Guess told the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh that David Sweat and Richard Matt spent two or three nights at the cabin two weeks after their June 6 escape from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility.
Sweat told investigators after his capture that he wanted to leave the cabin 30 miles west of the prison before someone discovered them. But Matt wanted to stay because the cabin had alcohol, heat and water. Matt argued that if someone did come, they could take him hostage or just kill him, Guess said.
"But Sweat said he wanted no part of that," Guess said.
The two convicted murderers also found a .20 gauge shotgun hidden between two mattresses, though they had no ammunition, Guess said, relying on Sweat's account.
A hunter who leased the cabin along with several other corrections officers drove an all-terrain vehicle to the camp June 20. Alerted to potential danger by his dog, he noticed movement, drew his handgun and saw a figure scurry into the woods, police said.
They recovered bloody socks, prison underwear and other items at the scene and quickly developed DNA evidence showing both men were at the cabin. Hundreds of searchers focused their efforts on the heavily wooded area.
Matt was shot dead on June 26 in nearby woods. Two days later, Sweat was shot by a trooper and captured near the Canadian border and sent back to prison.
Sweat's frustration with Matt grew in the days after they fled from the cabin into the woods, Guess said.
"He considered Matt to be a liability," Guess said. "He wasn't physically fit, and he was drunk as often as supplies would allow."
The pair split up after Matt stumbled and fell, making noise Sweat thought could alert searchers in the area.
Sweat ran northeast. Matt headed west.
On Thursday, the lawyer for Joyce Mitchell, a former prison employee accused of providing tools used by the inmates in their escape, said he's working on a plea agreement. Mitchell has a scheduled appearance in Clinton County Court Tuesday morning.
Guess said investigators don't believe knowledge of the escape plot went beyond Matt, Sweat and Mitchell.