MALONE, New York - After shooting and capturing fugitive convict David Sweat on Sunday afternoon, New York State Police scrambled in a police convoy to get him to a hospital to keep him alive. He was their only hope in revealing the details of his escape, since his partner-in-escape, Richard Matt, was dead.
They succeeded, as his condition was upgraded on Monday to serious, and he has since begun revealing what the plan was after he and Matt were the first to escape from the maximum-security portion of the Clinton Correctional Facility since it was built in 1865.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday Sweat told officials that the two inmates had initially planned to go Mexico.
Sweat said he and his partner had planned on being picked up June 6 by a prison worker named Joyce Mitchell, who has been accused of having intimate relations with Matt. The governor says they were to kill her husband and drive to Mexico, but Mitchell backed out at the last minute.
Instead of driving to get her alleged fugitive lover, she checked into a hospital suffering from a panic attack.
Cuomo said Sweat has revealed this and some other information as his condition improves.
Cuomo told the Capitol Pressroom that when Mitchell failed to pick them up, they instead headed north on foot toward Canada.
The governor said the two men split up about five days ago. He said Matt had blisters on his feet and Sweat felt his older escape partner - who turned 49 while the two were on the run - was slowing him down.
Sweat almost made it to Canada. He was shot twice after a state police officer spotted him within two miles of the border. He had a bag containing maps, insect repellant, Pop Tarts and other items, but no weapons.
A statement Monday from Albany Medical Center said Sweat did not need surgery and would remain there "for at least a few days while his condition stabilizes."
His capture ended a dramatic manhunt that began when Sweat and Matt cut holes in the walls of their adjoining cells, worked their way through a maze of catwalks and pipes and emerged from a manhole in the early hours of June 6 within sight of the prison walls. It was the first escape from the prison in more than 100 years.
Now authorities want to know who might have helped them. In addition to Mitchell, another prison employee has already been arrested and accused of, among other things, giving the two inmates frozen hamburger meat with hacksaw blades and other tools hidden inside.
On Friday, Matt was killed with three shots to the head after being found near a cabin in the vast wooded region where the two men are thought to have moved between hunting camps that are mostly empty this time of year.
Matt - who once vowed never to be taken alive - was sick and drunk when police caught up with him, according to a report. Investigators said that the finding of Matt's soiled underwear before they caught up with him indicated he was likely ill from consuming contaminated food or water.
One of the tips that led investigators to Matt was a local reporting one of their cabins having been broken into, with empty or half-drunken bottles of booze lying everywhere, the Buffalo News reports. Officials said Matt's corpse reeked of alcohol.
More than 1,200 law enforcement officers had been searching for them. But D'Amico said the men may have used black pepper to throw off their scent from the dogs that tried to track them.
The manhunt ended Sunday afternoon when a single police officer spotted a suspicious man jogging on a rural road near the Canadian border. New York State Police Sgt. Jay Cook fired twice as Sweat ran for the treeline, worrying he might get away.
"I can only assume he was going for the border," Superintendent Joseph D'Amico told reporters.
The two prisoners had cut their way out of a maximum-security prison 30 miles away using power tools.
Prison guard Gene Palmer, charged with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct, appeared briefly in court Monday with his new lawyer. Palmer waived his right to a preliminary hearing, clearing the way for potential grand jury action.
Joyce Mitchell pleaded not guilty June 15 to charges including felony promoting prison contraband.
"The nightmare is finally over," Cuomo declared Sunday, but he said many questions remained unanswered, including whether the inmates had other accomplices.
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat will be charged with escape, burglary and other charges for his time on the run once he is recovered in the hospital.
Sweat had been serving a sentence of life without parole in the killing of a sheriff's deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt had been serving 25 years to life for the killing and dismembering of his former boss.