On June 6, 2015, two convicted killers escaped from New York State’s toughest maximum security prison, Dannemora. What followed over the next 23 days, was an unbelievable tale of intrigue, as salacious facts revealed the murderers had seduced a female prison employee into aiding in their plan to escape. Swept up by their artful manipulation, she smuggled hacksaw blades into the prison in frozen hamburger, engaged in sexual conduct with one of the inmates, and schemed to pick them up at midnight as they emerged from a manhole cover outside prison walls, in the heart of the village. To clear the way for their planned escape to Mexico, there allegedly was even talk of murdering her unsuspecting husband, to remove the “glitch.” This is the inside story of the terrorized community, the outstanding men and women of law enforcement, and the State Trooper responsible for capturing the inmates.
Relentless Pursuit takes the reader inside the investigation of the escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora as only the Incident Commander, New York State Police Major (Retired) Charles Guess, can relate it. From start to finish, you are exposed to the sense of urgency, strategy, and tactics employed and experienced by those inside the complex investigation, which captivated national and international attention during the summer of 2015. Guess recounts the professionalism and perseverance of his officers and the contributions of the community, leading to the capture of both fugitives, making you feel as if you were present when a Border Patrol tactical team apprehended Inmate Richard Matt, in a violent encounter along a rural highway and State Trooper Jay Cook captured Inmate David Sweat in an alfalfa field within a stone’s throw of the Canadian border.
In Relentless Pursuit, you are also led on a brief tour of Guess’ remarkable career, spanning more than three decades of law enforcement and military service, recalling the inherent dangers of road patrol, SWAT call outs, SCUBA diving, Aviation, and Troop Command. Although the primary theme of the book is the manhunt, this additional information highlights Guess’ extensive background and professional development which prepared the author for what would turn out to be his ultimate, professional challenge, the escape from Dannemora.
Charles Guess is a retired New York State Police major and was the Incident Commander for the 2015 escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY. With overall responsibility for the manhunt for escaped Inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat, he oversaw all agencies and personnel involved in the search, including the Department of Corrections, NYS Forest Rangers and Conservation Officers, FBI, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as other federal, state, and local partners. In addition to leading a coalition of agencies, he coordinated strategic, tactical, and operational decisions on the ground and oversaw a team of investigators from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who investigated more than 3,400 leads; ultimately culminating in the apprehension of both escaped inmates. Guess credits the tenacity of his outstanding troopers, law enforcement colleagues, and members of the community with this success.
Guess, a former Army officer, attended Ranger, Airborne, Air Assault, and Northern Warfare training and U.S. Army Flight School, where he learned to fly helicopters. He left the Army in 1990, having achieved the rank of captain. After joining the New York State Police, Guess worked as a trooper on patrol and as a member, and later leader, of the Special Operations Response Team (aka SWAT) and SCUBA Unit, while training other troopers as a firearms and defensive tactics instructor.
Guess’ considerable training and skills made him uniquely qualified to assist at the sites of some of our nation’s most devastating events. Following the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, he spent weeks SCUBA diving as part of the unified recovery operations. After 9/11, as the operations sergeant on the Mobile Response Team, he and his teammates worked tirelessly at Ground Zero, conducting tactical team recovery operations for seven months. In addition, due to the loss of many Fire Department of New York Rescue Company divers at the World Trade Center, he planned and conducted training for new members of the FDNY SCUBA team, aiding in reconstituting the unit. After graduating from the FBI National Academy training program in Quantico, VA, in 2005, Guess rose through the ranks, continuing his work in Emergency Management directly supervising the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), SCUBA, K-9, Bomb Disposal, and HAZMAT units. He later served as the Commander of the New York State Police Aviation Unit, where he was awarded the IACP “Excellence in Police Aviation Award” for leadership at the 2014 national conference.
Guess retired from the State Police as the Troop Commander of Troop “B” in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York, after more than 32 combined years of law enforcement and military service.