A prison inmate shot and captured after three weeks on the run in northern New York remained hospitalized Friday while the body of his fellow escapee was handled in accordance with the wishes of his son.
Winthrop Allen, with the John O. Roth Funeral Home in Tonawanda, near Buffalo, said that the "final disposition" of Richard Matt's body had taken place.
Allen wouldn't say if Matt was buried or cremated or offer any other details. He said no services have been planned for Matt and that the funeral home had acted upon the wishes of Matt's son, Nicholas Harris.
Harris could not be reached for comment Friday.
More details are coming out about Richard Matt days after his death. According to information obtained by a Buffalo, NY newspaper from law enforcement officials, three days after Matt broke out of the maximum-security prison, his daughter living in a Buffalo suburb received a letter from him, delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
“I always promised you I would see you on the outside. I’m a man of my word,” a portion of the letter stated.
The letter was postmarked prior to the June 6 escape and arrived June 9.
Matt had maintained a correspondence with his daughter while serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life for murder, an acquaintances of the daughter confirmed.
But authorities say the daughter had no idea in advance that her father was planning an escape from Clinton Correctional Facility. Once he and David P. Sweat broke out, she fully cooperated with investigators. In fact, she requested round-the-clock protection, fearing that Matt would attempt to see her while he was on the run. That never happened.
Matt’s daughter declined to be interviewed.
“Richard Matt was a sociopath, and they were all afraid of him,” a law enforcement official said, adding that Matt’s brother Wayne M. Schimpf had also expressed concern that Matt might attempt an encounter with him. Schimpf cooperated with detectives and testified that Matt confessed to him that he had killed William L. Rickerson, 76, in 1997 and dismembered the body to dispose of it.
Matt did not rely entirely on letters to stay in touch with his daughter, according to the continuing investigation by the State Police, the FBI and the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s Office of Special Investigations.
He persuaded prison employee Joyce E. Mitchell to establish a relationship with his daughter, who began calling and texting Matt’s daughter several months ago.
“Mitchell called the daughter a couple of times, but most of the communications were through text messages from Mitchell,” the law enforcement official said. “She would pass along tidbits on how Matt was doing. He had a bad back, and Mitchell gave medical updates. Matt asked that she provide his daughter with the updates. There was nothing suspicious in those exchanges. Nothing about the planned escape was mentioned.”
Gregory Durandetto, a City of Tonawanda friend of Matt’s from childhood through earlier adulthood and one of the few people willing to say that Matt had a good side to him as a young man, said he was aware of the daughter’s correspondence with her father.
“She kept in touch with him. There was some degree of care she had for her father,” Durandetto said. “She’s a good woman, but had no idea that Rick was going to escape.”
Matt was shot and killed by a border patrol agent June 26, three weeks after he and David Sweat broke out of the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility. A tactical team member opened fire after Matt, lying behind a fallen tree, aimed a 20-gauge shotgun at the officer, according to officials.
Sweat was captured Sunday after being shot by a trooper as he fled through a field near the Canadian border. The pair had split days before.
Sweat remained in fair condition Friday at Albany Medical Center. It was not clear when or where he will be transferred.
Also Friday, New York State Police investigating the escape sought the public's help in locating the owner of a backpack Sweat was carrying when he was captured.
Troopers say the red and black TYR brand backpack is believed to have been stolen from a camp in the heavily wooded region. Officials have said Sweat was carrying maps, tools, Pop Tarts and other items in the backpack.