A massive manhunt for Linwood and James Briley that followed their famed escape from Mecklenburg Correctional Center last year received vital help from a bounty hunter, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday.

The Brileys, condemned killers who escaped with four others in the largest death row breakout in U.S. history, were recaptured 19 days later in Philadelphia. They were later executed in the electric chair.

The newspaper said the bounty hunter, identified only as Skip, was hired by the FBI in Philadelphia. Agents asked Skip to become friends with two suspects, find out if they were the Briley brothers and help set them up to be easily arrested if they were, the newspaper said in a copyrighted story.

Skip simply walked up to the garage where the Brileys were living and made friends, the newspaper reported.

The newspaper reported that Skip believed he was working for $20,000 in reward money, but got only $5,000 from the state of Virginia, the amount that a spokesman said was recommended by state police. The newspaper said the federal government felt obligated to supplement that reward with $7,000 in federal money.

"I don't care why they're wanted. I do this for a living. I work for the money," Skip was quoted as saying.