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Matt’s body is returned home for City of Tonawanda funeral

Richard W. Matt’s body has returned home to the City of Tonawanda, where a private funeral service is expected to be held.

Matt’s body arrived there Thursday morning from the Adirondacks after arrangements were made by his son to claim his father’s remains.

“The body had been released Wednesday night to the Heald Funeral Home in Plattsburgh for transfer back home,” Franklin County Coroner Brian Langdon said of the 49-year-old state prison escapee, who was raised in the City of Tonawanda by foster parents.

After Matt was fatally shot last Friday by a federal agent for refusing to put down a shotgun in woods by a cabin near Town of Malone, Franklin County, his body was taken to the Albany County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and later transported to the Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone.

Nicholas Harris, Matt’s son from Angola, Thursday reiterated his intentions to hold a private funeral service for his father. Earlier this week, the 23-year-old had expressed frustration that officials at Clinton Correctional Facility, the maximum-security prison in Dannemora where the escape occurred, refused the family’s request to cover the cost of the funeral.

The state, Harris said, was spending substantial amounts of money on medical expenses for the other escapee, David P. Sweat, but was unwilling to pay for a funeral for his father. Sweat, 35, was captured Sunday in the Town of Constable, Franklin County, after being shot twice while running away from State Police Sgt. Jay Cook. He had spotted Sweat on a secluded road.

Another Matt family member had tried to claim Matt’s body Monday but was unable to follow through with those intentions because of the financial costs, Langdon said.

The coroner said he had accompanied Matt’s body to Albany and witnessed the autopsy, explaining that it was his duty as a county coroner.

“As the coroner, I am the advocate for the deceased, and one of my duties is to protect and guard his being until the final disposition is made,” Langdon said. “Regardless of what or who the individual was in life, he is still a human being, and we protect them until they return home.”

Sweat, authorities say, remains hospitalized and continues to recover.

Gregory Durandetto, who grew up with Matt in the City of Tonawanda, said he is glad that funeral arrangements are being made locally for Matt.

“Rick is home, and his son brought him back to Tonawanda. Tonawanda is probably the place where Rick had some of his happiest times,” Durandetto said. “It is only right that he get a funeral. He was my friend, and he had family.”