'Escape at Dannemora': Richard Matt is survived by two children, both with vastly different opinions of him

What do Richard Matt's children think about their father's infamous prison escape being played out on screen?


                            'Escape at Dannemora': Richard Matt is survived by two children, both with vastly different opinions of him

Showtime's new prison drama from Ben Stiller might be a series adaptation of true events, but it is one of those stories which happens to be far more sensational than any media coverage or on-screen adaptation could turn it into.

With the advancement of the show delving deeper into the minds of the two prison inmates, whose story of escape and eventually their fates the plot is based on, viewers are now allowed a glimpse into the true identity of the characters - which comes as a striking contrast from the pilot's build up.

And, in that journey, we also got a glance at one of the inmates - Richard Matt (Benicio del Toro) - pulling out a photo of what could be his child. This brings us to our question of the day: Is Matt survived by a child? If so, what are their takes on this particular adaptation of their father, and his accomplice, David Sweat's infamous 2015 prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility?  

With its November 25 episode, viewers of 'Escape at Dannemora' were hit with a lot of questions about the two inmates, but mostly Matt. While we saw his sinister side come out to play with brilliant skills of manipulation, it also made us recollect what Matt was really in for in the first place.

Having been in and out of jail for several crimes, Matt finally ended up in prison for the gruesome murder of his former boss, William Rickerson, whom he had kidnapped with an accomplice, before breaking Rickerson's neck with his bare hands, dismembering his body and throwing the parts into a river.

In this handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown i n this composite image. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole.
In this handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown i n this composite image. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security prison June 6, 2015 using power tools and going through a manhole.

Following that, as per reports, Matt was in prison, serving 25 years to life, and his partner in crime for the escape, Sweat (played by Paul Dano in the show), was serving life without parole. Both of them were in for murder at the same time in the New York located facility.

The two managed to dig out a tunnel using tools from the prison's Harbor Shop, and almost three weeks later, Matt was found at Malone, New York, where he was shot and killed on sight. Just two days later, Sweat was shot and taken into custody too. The manhunt and investigation for the case was said to have come up to $23 million.

All of this is very Hollywood like, as we mentioned. It was a story cut out for turning into on-screen adaptations with all the sensational, juicy bits already residing in the incidents. And, so it was. But what the story also left behind, was Matt's daughter called Jamie Scalise.

Matt had had Scalise with a woman named Lucille Ciffa-Longo, and as per Scalise's account of having Matt for a parent, she was pretty much terrified of her father's criminal background - to the extent of having nightmares about his violence.

"It was always the same," she shared with The Buffalo News back in 2017. "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."

But in the future years to come, looks like all of that would change to a certain extent. The father and daughter eventually began a letter correspondence which eventually led to Scalise visiting him at Clinton Correctional Facility.

But it was still difficult for her to let go of his past. "I knew what he did," she said. "I never approved of anything he did, but I grew to love him. He was my father." And perhaps it is this conflicted love for her father that prompted Scalise to write her own perspective on the infamous inmate and his prison escape that led to the $23 million manhunt. 

Titled 'He's Out!: The True Story of Infamous Prison Escapee Richard Matt as Told by His Daughter,' the book was independently published just a month ago on October 29.

In the book's description on Amazon, Scalise writes: "We (she and her mother) had spoken little of him over the years. My journey through his past, which included a final return trip to the infamous manhole in Dannemora, provided needed closure to a shocking episode of my life launched when I received word that He's Out!"

Yet Scalise isn't the only one Matt is survived by. Turns out, he also has a son called Nick Harris, who was 23 at the time of Matt's prison escape in 2015. In an interview with WKBW, the now 26-year-old shared: "Obviously, he was in jail when I was younger, and he wasn't there for me as a father 100 percent." It was perhaps for the same reasons that Harris had decided, despite having met Matt, pursuing a relationship with his biological father wouldn't be very "healthy."

"He makes an impression that lingers with you," Harris told The Buffalo News when the manhunt for Matt was on. "My father has always wanted to have a relationship with me." However, he added: "I was raised by a stepfather. I was mature enough at that age to know I already had a father figure. I decided a relationship would not be healthy."

Still, the question about Matt's two kids' opinion on the current show focusing on their father's infamous jailbreak lingers. In a recent interview with WIVBTV, Scalise opened up about what it was like to watch the past unfold on screen, and shared her first reaction was "what?"

But she also added: "I can see that person in there... For me, it was always about his eyes." She further explained seeing her father face to face during the prison visit was her only memory of him, as she didn't grow up with him around.

"Sitting across from the table is the only connection I have (with Matt) and seeing Benicio play my father - I think he picked up on a lot of that. He really cued into his command in that prison," Scalise said.

But, by the looks of her half-brother's apparent lack of interest in pursuing any association with their father, it is highly unlikely he would have much to share on what it was like to see their father acted out on screen. For all we know, he may not even know about the show.