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Body of prison escapee released to NY funeral home

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The body of a convicted murderer who was fatally shot three weeks after he broke out of prison was released to a funeral home Thursday as his fellow escapee continued his recovery at a hospital under heavy guard.

Richard Matt's body was being transported from a northern New York hospital to a funeral home before being taken about six hours away to Tonawanda in western New York, said the director of the Heald Funeral Home in Plattsburgh.

richardmatt.jpg
Photo of escapee Richard Matt after being fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent June 26. This image was slightly modified by CBS News to conceal his head injury. CBS News

Matt's estranged son in the Buffalo area had said he would claim the body. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Matt escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on June 6 with David Sweat, another convicted killer. Matt was shot dead June 26. Sweat was shot and captured June 28. He is listed in fair condition at an Albany hospital.

The state correction department announced Wednesday that a new superintendent had been named at the prison and a range of new security measures had been put in place after the inmates' escape.

Twelve prison workers on leave after murderers' escape

Michael Kirkpatrick, a 30-year correction veteran, is the new superintendent at the maximum-security prison. He replaces Steven Racette, who was placed on paid leave along with two of his deputies and nine other staff members, including guards, after an internal review of how the inmates escaped.

Prison officials said new security measures include stepped-up searches of inmates' cells, staffing changes to ensure bed checks are more effective and installation of security gates in the facility's tunnels.

Authorities said the inmates cut through their adjoining cell walls over months, climbed down catwalks to the tunnels, got hold of contractors' tools, broke through a brick wall, cut into and out of a steam pipe and cut a chain holding a manhole cover outside the prison to get away.

Officials said they will temporarily close the prison's honor block, where the inmates escaped, and subject it to the same security restrictions as other blocks. All contractor toolboxes are now to be stored in secure areas inaccessible to inmates and inspected daily. A captain or higher rank is required on every overnight shift. Staff members in remote areas are required to check in every half-hour.

Bed checks will be at varying intervals, and each cell's structural integrity is to be inspected weekly, with a viewing of the catwalks behind.

The escape by Sweat and Matt launched a massive 23-day manhunt amid the rugged northern New York terrain involving more than 1,100 law enforcement officers.

What's next in the New York prison escape investigation?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday that a member of the border patrol's tactical team opened fire after Matt aimed a 20-gauge shotgun at the officer. It was the first indication that Matt aimed the weapon he had taken from a hunting camp. Officials had said the agent shot Matt when he failed to comply with commands to raise his hands.

Matt's estranged son, Nick Harris, earlier told CBS Buffalo affiliate WIVB-TV he believes his father's death was wrongful because agents shot him three times in the head.

Harris said he never knew his father very well because Matt had been incarcerated since Harris was very young.

David Sweat reveals escape plot as prison worker goes to court

Sweat has since provided details about how he and Matt evaded law enforcement following their escape.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat and Matt had several close calls, including hearing the voices of people nearby when they were hiding in a hunting cabin, CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports.

Sweat also told police that after the two split up, Sweat hid in a tree stand used by hunters and saw a law enforcement officer walk right by him, Werner reports.

Sweat is also providing more details to investigators about how the pair escaped from the prison.

Wylie confirmed that Sweat told police he never used power tools, only a hacksaw blade to cut through steel cell block walls and steam pipes.

Officials say two employees of the prison, Joyce Mitchell, a tailor shop instructor and Gene Palmer, a guard, aided Matt and Sweat in their escape.

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