Guards conducting a routine inmate count discovered that Malcolm Kysor, 53, of Erie, was missing Sunday afternoon from the State Correctional Institution-Albion.
Kysor hid in the can, which was pushed onto a loading dock and hauled away on a pickup truck, according to a criminal complaint. Another inmate apparently helped him
The prison was locked down Monday, authorities said. The FBI announced an unspecified reward for information leading to his capture.
Kysor was convicted in January 1987 of first-degree murder in the beating death of Barney Fenton, 40. He was arrested in June 1981 for drunken driving in Fenton's car, and nearly a year later Fenton's remains were found buried along Interstate 79 outside Erie.
The medium-security prison southwest of Erie houses about 2,300 inmates, said Sue McNaughton, a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman.