Richard Matt's Kids Had A Complicated Relationship With The 'Escape At Dannemora' Subject
Everyone loves a good jailbreak story — except this one is based on real life. Showtime's Escape at Dannemora, which premiered Sunday, Nov. 18, puts a fictionalized spin on Richard Matt (Benicio Del Toro) and David Sweat's (Paul Dano) infamous prison escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in 2015. And as the series unfolds, viewers will undoubtedly be curious about the real people behind the characters —including several questions about Richard Matt's kids, who he mentions in the Nov. 25 episode.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Matt was in an out of jail for various misdemeanors throughout his life, but ended up in prison after being convicted for the 1998 kidnapping, torture, and murder of his former boss, William Rickerson. However, the outlet reports that Matt fled to Mexico shortly after the police investigation began pointing his way, and was briefly imprisoned in the country on suspicion of another, unrelated murder. It wasn't until 2008 that U.S. officials were able to apprehend him, bring him back to the states, and charge him in connection to Rickerson's death. According to government records, Matt was sentenced to 25 years to life, and began his term at the Clinton Correctional Facility in July 2008, when he was 42. Following his escape from Clinton Correctional seven years later — and the 23-day manhunt that ensued — Matt was shot and killed by a SWAT team on June 27, 2015, per ABC.
As for who he left behind, Matt has a daughter named Jamie Scalise, whom he had with a woman named Lucille Ciffa-Longo. Scalise told the Buffalo News that when she was growing up, she often had nightmares about her father after learning of his violent background. "It was always the same," she said. "He was coming into the house at night, and I was in bed. He was dressed in black but I could see his face. He’d put me in this big black plastic garbage bag and tie it up."
However, somewhere along the way, they began a letter correspondence, and Scalise even visited him at the Clinton Correctional Facility. That said, she never forgot who Matt was. "I knew what he did," she said. "I never approved of anything he did, but I grew to love him. He was my father." According to another article from the Buffalo News, Matt wrote Scalise 68 letters over the years — the first one dated January 11, 2011.
As a result, Scalise wrote a book called He's Out!: The True Story of Infamous Prison Escapee Richard Matt as Told by His Daughter, which was independently published on Oct. 29, 2018, according to Amazon.
Matt also left behind a son, Nick Harris, who is Scalise's half-brother. According to an interview with WKBW, Harris was 23 when his father escaped from prison in 2015, which would make him about 26 today. "Obviously, he was in jail when I was younger, and he wasn't there for me as a father 100 percent," Harris said in the interview.
"He makes an impression that lingers with you," Harris said in a separate interview with Buffalo News. "My father has always wanted to have a relationship with me." Although they didn't interact that much, Harris recalled meeting his dad years ago at the Niagara County Jail and a more recent visit he took around 2007. That said, after he wrote his father a letter, he decided not to pursue a relationship with the man. "I was raised by a stepfather," he continued to Buffalo News. "I was mature enough at that age to know I already had a father figure. I decided a relationship would not be healthy."
Today, it seems like both of Matt's children are doing just fine, even despite their father's troubling legacy.