Did a Seamstress Weave a Prison Break for Two Murderers?
The first bust of the saga wasn't one of the fugitives but Joyce Mitchell, who worked in the prison shop and allegedly gave power tools to killers.
Joyce Mitchell has been arrested for helping convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat break out of prison. Mitchell will be arraigned Friday and charged with contraband in the first degree (a felony) and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree (a misdemeanor).
The district attorney for New York’s Clinton County said Friday that Mitchell “provided some form of equipment or tools” to Matt and Sweat. Law-enforcement sources told CNN the tools included “hacksaw blades, drill bits, and eyeglasses with lights affixed to them.” (Previous reports said an electric saw was used.)
The Albany Times Union reported late Thursday that Mitchell confessed to smuggling the tools into the prison and providing the men with access to a cellphone. Earlier reports claimed that Mitchell was set to be their getaway driver until she got cold feet at the last minute. Authorities say Mitchell has voluntarily provided useful information throughout their manhunt, CNN reports.
A coworker filed a complaint about Mitchell’s alleged relationship with Sweat earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Department of Corrections’s investigation was inconclusive, but Sweat was reassigned out of Mitchell’s tailoring shop and placed under another supervisor. CNN reports that Mitchell told investigators that Matt—not Sweat—made her feel “special,” but she didn’t say she was in love with him.
Matt earned the moniker “Hacksaw” from inmates and prison guards alike based on the weapon he used to butcher his elderly boss, The Daily Beast’s M.L. Nestel and Kate Briquelet reported. Former prison workers say Matt also had a way with winning people over, ingratiating himself by showing portraits he drew of celebrities like Oprah.
Matt and Sweat were on an “honor block” based on having clean prison records. This tier of the facility allowed inmates to cook and visit with their fellow prisoners. There is speculation that this more relaxed part of the prison gave them an easier path to plan their escape.
Authorities said Mitchell’s husband, who also works at the prison, is also under investigation but not charged or in custody.
Mitchell’s son, Tobey, said in an interview Wednesday that his mom is not the kind of person who would endanger her life and the lives of others to help these men escape. When asked if his mother could have been taken advantage of, he said: “I don’t know. I mean, they both are convicted murderers. I mean, you have an inmate that is in prison for life, you really don’t have anything to lose.”
Meanwhile, the search for Matt an Sweat enters its second week. Friday night the search focused on an area in Cadyville, three miles from Dannemora where the prison is located. A man who owns 50 acres in Cadyville said police told him they think both men are on his property. Authorities said two sets of footprints were found at a gas station in Dannemora and that bloodhounds detected their scents there.