Two convicted murderers bundled up clothes in their beds, then escaped from their upstate New York maximum security prison cells through catwalks and tunnels, officials said.
As a result of the deception, Richard Matt and David Sweat were accounted for during a morning bed check at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, said New York State police.
Sweat, 34, is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of killing a Broome County sheriff's deputy in 2002. Matt, 48, is serving 25 years to life in prison after he kidnapped and beat a man to death in 1997, police said.
The prisoners, who were in separate but adjacent cells, arranged hoodies and other clothing to make it appear as if they were in their beds, officials said.
They then escaped through holes in the wall of their adjoining cells onto a catwalk about six stories high, and climbed down, officials said. The men appeared to have power tools in several spots that they used in their escape through tunnels, officials said.
"A search revealed that there was a hole cut out of the back of the cell through which these inmates escaped," said Anthony Annuci, the acting state corrections commissioner. "They went onto a catwalk which is about six stories high. We estimate they climbed down and had power tools and were able to get out to this facility through tunnels, cutting away at several spots."
They then came out onto the street through a manhole cover.
"No doubt that it was an extraordinary act," Cuomo said.
This is the first escape ever from the maximum security portion of the Clinton Correctional Facility, which has been open since 1865, the governor said.
Matt is described as standing 6 feet tall, weighing 210 pounds and having black hair and hazel eyes. He has tattoos reading "Mexico Forever," a heart on his chest and left shoulder, and a Marine Corps badge on his right shoulder, police said.
Sweat is described as standing 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 165 pounds and having brown hair and green eyes. He has tattoos on his left bicep and his right fingers, police said.
Police say both men are considered dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call state police at 518-563-3761.