Tuesday, June 12, 1979

Prisoner Convicted in 1977 East Side Murder Flees Jail on Rikers Island

A 20-year-old Manhattan man who was sentenced last month to 15 years to life imprisonment for a burglary-murder in 1977 escaped yesterday from the Rikers Island Adolescent Reception and Detention Shelter.

The man, Sean Ryan, was awaiting transfer to the crowded state prison system.
He burned a hole in one of three plexiglass louver window panels in his cell and then, with a five-inch hacksaw blade, sawed through the panel frame. He then let down a 15-foot rope that he had braided from blanket, pushed out the glass, squirmed his 145-pound, 5-foot-6 inch body through the opening and climbed out and dropped down to the ground 20 feet below. A correction officer heard a crash at 3:30am and found the cell empty.

Ryan was found guilty of the 11/12/77 death of Harry Kassoff, 68, at the Sovereign, 425 East 58th Street. Willis Jackson, 22, had admitted stabbing Mr. K and had testified that Mr. Ryan participated in the burglary.

Excerpt from The New York Times 6/12/79