By Sam Frizell
June 8, 2015

Two convicted murderers with grisly pasts escaped from a maximum security in upstate New York on Saturday morning, spurring a dragnet hunt for the escaped felons.

They two escapees—David Sweat, 34, and Richard Matt, 48—both have a gruesome criminal history. Sweat had been at the prison since 2003, and Matt had arrived in 2008, and both had “satisfactory” disciplinary records in prison, the New York Times reports.

“This is a crisis situation for the state,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said over the weekend. “These are dangerous men capable of committing grave crimes again.”

Here’s what you should know about the escapees, pictured below.

Convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown in this composite image.
New York State Police/Getty Images

David Sweat was convicted of murdering a sheriff’s deputy in central New York in July 2002. The cop approached Sweat, then 22, and two accomplices, shortly after they stole a cache of weapons from a store in Pennsylvania. After the robbery, the went to a park near the deputy’s home in the early morning to split the stolen rifles and handguns between them. When the deputy approached, Sweat and an accomplice shot the deputy 15 times and drove over him with a car, according to court records.

As a 16-year old in 1996, Sweat was charged with attempted second-degree burglary, and in 1997 he was charged with burglary after entering a home and stealing jewelry and cash, PoliceOne.com reported in 2002.

Sweat is 5 feet 11 inches, 165 pounds, has brown hair and a tattoo on his left bicep. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Richard Matt was convicted of kidnapping, dismembering and killing his former boss in 1997. According to the testimony of an accomplice, Matt abducted a 76-year-old food broker and his former boss, William Rickerson, first entering his home and hitting him with a knife sharpener. About an hour later, Matt bound up Rickerson with duct tape and threw him into the trunk of a car. According to the accomplice, Matt repeatedly beat and assaulted him before killing Rickerson by twisting his neck. The entire episode lasted 27 hours.

After the murder, Matt fled to Mexico. In the city of Matamoros, across the Rio Grande River from Brownsville, Texas, Matt fatally stabbed a man outside a bar. He was sentenced to prison for 20 years and eventually extradited to the United States in 2007. But his rap sheet goes back further than that: Matt was sentenced to 2-4 years for a 1989 rape in Buffalo and stabbing a nurse in 1991. He served time for those crimes until 1997, the same year he abducted and killed Rickerson.

And Matt has escaped from prison before. In 1986, he made a four-day getaway from Erie County Jail in Alden, where he was serving for assault. “He was the highest threat of security we ever had in our jail,” said the Niagara County Sheriff’s chief deputy, shortly after rushing Matt from his county jail to a higher security prison in June 2008.

Matt is 210 pounds, about 6 feet tall, has black hair and a tattoo that says “Mexico Forever.” He was serving 25 years to life.

 

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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