NY Prison Escape: Convict Richard Matt Painted Stunning Portraits of Celebrities

PHOTO: Richard Matt, who escaped from an upstate New York prison, had previously sent his friend John Mulligan, of Syracuse, New York, a series of paintings showing celebrity portraits.PlayWTVH
WATCH Escaped Convict Richard Matt Honed His Artistic Talent Behind Bars

The paintings come alive inside John Mulligan's Syracuse, New York home.

Marilyn Monroe. Oprah Winfrey. Julia Roberts. Hillary Clinton. Martin Luther King, Jr. The artist of the pieces is Richard Matt, one of the men who escaped last week from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York.

According to a report by CNYCentral.com, Mulligan befriended Matt when the men were serving time together. Matt later sent Mulligan about 10 pieces, from celebrity pieces to a painting showing Mulligan’s deceased sister, her smile warm and bright.

PHOTO: Richard Matt, who escaped from an upstate New York prison, had previously sent his friend John Mulligan, of Syracuse, New York, a series of paintings showing celebrity portraits.WTVH
Richard Matt, who escaped from an upstate New York prison, had previously sent his friend John Mulligan, of Syracuse, New York, a series of paintings showing celebrity portraits.

For Mulligan, the artwork represents wasted talent – reflecting what might have been in Matt’s life, if he had taken another path.

“I’m sure for people who don’t know him, [the artwork is] exceptionally disturbing, but this is a piece of his life,” Mulligan told CNYCentral.com.

“There’s some humanity in him,” Mulligan told CNYCentral.com. “There’s a dark side. Sure, there’s a dark side. That’s what the public is portraying. But there’s also a very human side to Richard Matt.”

Matt and another fellow inmate, David Sweat, escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on June 6.

As authorities continue to search for the men, a prison tailoring shop instructor, Joyce Mitchell, appeared in court Monday, charged with helping them flee. Mitchell, 51, is charged with promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation.

According to Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie, Mitchell had planned to meet Matt, 48, and Sweat, 35, at a power plant near the prison the night of their escape and expected to drive them to a wooded area about seven hours away.

Instead of driving the getaway car, Mitchell checked herself into a hospital, complaining of a panic attack, Wylie said.

"She realized what this was going to do to her family,” Wiley said. “She realized that she loved her husband, Lyle, and she did not want to leave him at the end.”

PHOTO: Undated photos released by the New York State Police show David Sweat who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.New York State Police
Undated photos released by the New York State Police show David Sweat who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.

Mitchell has pleaded not guilty. Her lawyer, Stephen Johnston, told Judge Mark Rodgers Monday in Plattsburgh City Court that he and his client were waiving a preliminary felony hearing.

Mitchell is “distraught” and “probably” shocked to be in the limelight, Johnston said Monday.

Authorities say the escape was being planned for five weeks. According to prosecutors, Mitchell smuggled speed-bag boxing gloves and lighted glasses, along with blades, chisels and cutting tools into the facility.

The convicts used power tools to cut through the back of their adjacent cells, broke through a brick wall, then cut into a steam pipe and slithered through it, finally emerging outside the prison walls through a manhole, authorities said.

Matt was serving 25 years to life in prison after he kidnapped and beat a man to death in 1997. Sweat was serving a life sentence after he was convicted of killing a Broome County sheriff's deputy in 2002.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a formal investigation Monday "to determine all factors potentially involved in the escape," according to a press release. New York Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott is tasked with conducting the investigation.

"Capturing these killers and returning them to state custody remains our top priority – however, it's critically important to examine the circumstances that enabled these inmates to escape in the first place," Cuomo said in the press release.

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