Skip to comments.Two Convicted Murderers Escape in N.Y.
Posted on 07/07/2003 9:34:37 AM PDT by TLBSHOW
Two Convicted Murderers Escape From Maximum-Security Prison in Upstate New York
ELMIRA, N.Y. July 7 Two inmates convicted of murder escaped from a maximum-security prison early Monday, officials said.
Guards at the Elmira Correctional Facility discovered the men, who shared a prison cell, were missing during a routine inmate count at 6:30 a.m., said Jim Flateau, spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services.
Guards later found sheets tied together that led down an outside wall of the 1,856-bed prison, 75 miles southwest of Syracuse in the western part of the state, Flateau said. State police and the Chemung County Sheriff's Department were aiding in the search.
The inmates were identified as Timothy Vail, 35, who is serving 49 years to life in the 1988 rape and murder of a pregnant secretary, Mary Kopyar; and Timothy Morgan, 26, who is serving 25 years to life for the 1998 murder of cab driver Joseph Boop.
Vail won't be eligible for parole until 2037, and Morgan won't be eligible until 2023.
The last escape from a maximum-security prison in the state was in 1994 at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill.
And you don't see this as a weakness in the vaunted "maximum security"?
Don't they look familiar?
ROTFLMAO. They're still looking for these guys, BTW. Hope they find them soon.
Link to story in the Press & Sun-Bulletin
It was the holiday season, days before the new year 1989, when Vail raped and strangled Mary K. Kopyar in a downtown Binghamton law office at 96 Hawley St. He left her body on the floor with a scarf knotted tightly around her neck.
"It was a brutal rape and murder of a pregnant woman," Broome County District Gerald F. Mollen recalled Monday. "It was just a very terrible crime."
Kopyar was 23 years old and eight months pregnant when she was slain. She was a wife and mother of a then 2-year-old son. Vail was 20.
Broome County Historian Gerald Smith said the murder is one of the 10 most vicious killings in Broome's history.
"The crime was pretty brutal because of the viciousness of the attack and because she was pregnant," Smith said. "There's something wrong with that."
Smith placed Vail's crime in the same category of last summer's execution-style slaying of sheriff's Deputy Kevin J. Tarsia and the shotgun killings, also last summer, of Binghamton resident Valerie Spears and her daughter, Devin.
Mollen won a guilty verdict against Vail in September 1989 in Broome County Court. The conviction sent the former Endicott resident to state prison for a minimum 49-year term.
Vail's escape brings back fears for Kopyar's family, said Lynn Giacobbe, executive director of the Crime Victims Assistance Center. The escape puts Vail back in the news and brings attention to the victim's family again, she said.
"To know that kind of guy is on the loose in someone's community is scary," she said.
Vail had known Kopyar because his mother also worked at Rosefsky, D'Esti & Chupp on Hawley Street. Vail was carrying out a burglary when Kopyar surprised him. The office had closed for the day, and Kopyar was apparently getting ready to go home when she was attacked.
Giacobbe spoke Monday with Kopyar's mother, Mary Gell of Binghamton. The family did not wish to comment, Giacobbe said.
Remy R. Perot, a Binghamton lawyer, was Vail's court-assigned defense counsel. Perot said Monday that he hasn't spoken with Vail, now 35 years old, since the trial.
Perot said the prosecution had a great deal of evidence against his client, including Vail's confession to then-Binghamton police investigator Alex J. Minor.
"It was kind of a slam-dunk case ... for them," Perot said. "In the end, they had evidence to convict."
The jury deliberated 3 1/2 hours before convicting Vail.
Before the trial, Vail had led investigators to the spot, at a highway rest stop at Otsiningo Park, where he dumped Kopyar's purse. A credit card from the purse, with Vail's fingerprint on it, was used against him at the trial.
But later, in a scandal that rocked the local legal system, a state police investigator admitted putting Vail's print on the card.
But the fraudulent evidence was not enough to throw out Vail's conviction. Broome County Judge Patrick Mathews ruled the phony fingerprint would not have changed the outcome. The conviction stood.
David L. Harding, of the Troop C Identification Unit, went to prison for perjury and tampering with evidence in the Vail trial and a string of other illegal manipulations.
Three other Sidney-based investigators also were convicted in the scandal, arguably the worst in New York state police history.
|A rope made of bed sheets tied together hangs down a wall of the Elmira Correctional Facility on Monday in Elmira. It was allegedly used by inmates Timothy G. Morgan and Timothy A. Vail to escape the maximum-security facility.|
|Gannett News Service
|Timothy A. Vail Killed Binghamton woman in 1988|
|Timothy G. Morgan Killed Gloversville cab driver in 1998|
Timothy A. Vail and Timothy G. Morgan, serving sentences of 49 years to life and 25 years to life, respectively, were discovered missing from Elmira Correctional Facility around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
More than 100 police, correction officers, FBI agents, dogs and helicopters were mobilized after the breakout was discovered. Roads out of Elmira were blocked all day as officers holding shotguns checked each vehicle, causing long delays on major routes.
* Vail, 35, formerly of Endicott, is serving 49 years to life for second-degree murder, first-degree rape, burglary and robbery in the 1988 slaying of Binghamton law-office secretary Mary Kopyar. She was 23 years old and eight months pregnant when Vail raped and strangled her as she prepared to close the office where she worked. Vail was the son of one of Kopyar's co-workers. He was in the midst of a burglary when Kopyar surprised him. Vail is eligible for parole in 2037.
* Morgan, 26, of Fulton County is serving 25 years to life for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the 1998 slaying of cab driver Joseph Boop in Gloversville. On Feb. 23, 1998, Morgan summoned a taxi and told Boop he was carrying a shotgun for a hunting trip. On a remote road west of Albany, he argued with Boop over the fare and shot him twice in the head. Police said he took $90 from the dead man's pocket and spent some of it on beer. He is eligible for parole in 2023.
James Flateau, spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services, said efforts Monday were focused on recapturing the men and that a detailed analysis of the escape will come later. He said prison officials searched the facility about an hour before sounding the escape siren.
Here is what's known about the escape:
Morgan and Vail were cellmates in one of the facility's 88 double-bunked cells. Their 8-foot-by-10-foot cell was on the top of a four-story block of cells at the southeast end of the facility. The prison is built to house 1,856 inmates.
They escaped through an 8-inch-by-12-inch hole in the ceiling above the bunk bed by breaking through about 5 inches of concrete and steel. A sledgehammer apparently used in the escape was found in the men's cell. It probably was stolen from one of several construction sites in the building, union officials said.
A piece of black cardboard, held in place by toothpaste, concealed the hole in the ceiling, which is painted black.
The men had fashioned dummies in their beds. The dummies included realistic heads with hair.
They used about 50 feet of bed sheets tied together to make a rope to scale the facility's outer wall. There is no razor wire on the roof, prison officials said.
Their absence was discovered during a check by officers at 6:30 a.m. They had last been seen at 10:30 p.m. Sunday; their cell was last inspected June 6.
Flateau said Morgan and Vail should not have had access to the construction sites, and their prison jobs shouldn't have brought them into contact with construction tools. Vail worked in the woodworking shop; Morgan worked half-days in the gymnasium and the other half on his General Educational Development diploma.
Grant Marin, western region vice president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association Inc., said Monday he predicted an escape might happen because the state has continued to ignore union requests for improved staffing and better safety measures at Elmira.
Flateau said he wouldn't respond to union comments because the focus was on catching the escapees and protecting the public, but added: "The union has nothing to do with running the prison."
Flateau said when prison units are in "lockdown" -- when prisoners are confined to their cells, such as at night -- fewer correction officers are needed. One officer was making rounds of the 123-inmate block during the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift, and another was at the duty station overnight Sunday.
The officer making rounds discovered that inmates were missing.
The facility was at full staff with 32 officers on duty on Sunday night, Flateau said. Two officers were assigned to the two outside watch towers.
For security reasons, he said he could not give more details on the escape, sightings or whether outside accomplices were involved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.