Former accomplice says escaped prisoner is a ‘dangerous man’

Authorities on Saturday, June 6, 2015 said convicted murderer Richard Matt, 48, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. (New York State Police via AP)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — If anyone knows what escaped prisoner Richard Matt is capable of, it’s his former accomplice Lee Bates.

Bates was only 20 years old when he met Richard Matt, and Bates says he wishes he could’ve stopped him from torturing and killing his boss William Rickerson back in 1997.

“I’m sorry about that. I wish I could’ve changed what happened” said Bates who agreed to speak to News 4 on the condition that we don’t show his face.

Bates testified against Matt saying he was the primary killer. Bates still spent 16 years in prison for murder as an accomplice. He was released last August and is living back in Buffalo now. He admits he is concerned about Matt trying to seek revenge on him for testifying against him.

“Certainly there’s concern. You have to be concerned” said Bates. “My family, and people in the neighborhood, we’re all concerned and we look out for each other and we feel that we can all stand together during this.”

Matt has now been on the run for five full days, the first to ever escape from Clinton Correctional. “His ability to be cunning and manipulative. He can manipulate people easily. He wanted it bad enough and I’m sure he thought about it and planned it, used everything to his ability to execute this.”

When asked what he wants people to know, Bates says “This is a dangerous man. He’s dangerous, he’s cruel and like I said he’s very evil, and not only people that know him , people that don’t know him in society certainly are at risk. There’s no telling what his mindset is and what he can do or will do next.”

As for himself, Lee Bates fells he paid his own debt to society for being an accomplice and he wants to thank everyone for helping him to readjust back in Buffalo after being released from prison last summer.

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