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Manhattan Inmate Stashed Bedsheets in Cell in Potential Escape Plot

By Trevor Kapp | June 18, 2015 2:27pm
 Manhattan Detention Center inmate Ernest Murphy hid more than 60 bedsheets in his cell for a potential escape, the DOI said.
Manhattan Detention Center inmate Ernest Murphy hid more than 60 bedsheets in his cell for a potential escape, the DOI said.
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DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

MANHATTAN DETENTION CENTER — An inmate held on murder charges at the Manhattan Detention Center stashed 64 bedsheets under a sink in his cell — enough to potentially shimmy down from his 11th floor quarters to the street — in what investigators compared to the recent jailbreak upstate, the Department of Investigation announced Thursday.

Inspectors discovered the sheets in inmate Ernest Murphy’s room after conducting a full sweep of the lower Manhattan jail following a Correction officer’s arrest for smuggling in drugs and other goods to inmates.

“The city was spared the potential spectacle of joining the state for the past two weeks in a manhunt for escaped inmates,” Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters said, referring to the breakout of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat from the Clinton Correctional Facility.

“We know that it was a potentially viable plan. He did not make any confessions, but honestly, there’s no other conceivable (reason) for keeping that many bed sheets together like that other than for an escape.”

The discovery was made following the arrest of MDC mailroom worker Patricia Howard, a 19-year prison employee. Howard smuggled in cocaine, pliers, cellphones and other items to inmates over a six-month span in exchange for kickbacks from their families, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said.

Vance said Howard would connect with inmates’ relatives, who would then deliver the contraband to her. She would then allegedly smuggle the items into MDC and deliver them.

“MDC inmates and their families were very grateful for Officer Howard’s efforts, so grateful in fact that she was thanked by one with a greeting card,” Vance said.

Howard faces a laundry list of charges, including attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance, promoting prison contraband, bribe receiving and conspiracy.

Murphy, 25, who is being held on murder charges, is now also charged with promoting prison contraband.

Also charged in the indictment were Tommy Davis, Velver Jean Davis, Khalilah Mattocks, Victor Mena and Yermi Morel.