The prison worker who has been accused of aiding two convicted murderers in their escape from an upstate prison last weekend has now been arrested. Prison tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell, 51, was arraigned late Friday on the felony charge of promoting prison contraband and misdemeanor count of criminal facilitation. She was ordered held in jail on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond on felony count.
Mitchell helped inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora learn who sew clothes and learn to repair sewing machines. Mitchell allegedly provided Richard Matt and David Sweat with hacksaw blades, chisels and screwdriver bits, which they then used to facilitate their dramatic breakout through the catwalks underneath the prison.
It is believed that she was going to act as their getaway driver—or perhaps procure a getaway driver for them—but she got cold feet and checked herself into a local hospital for a "panic attack" the day of the escape.
State Department of Corrections officials had previously received a complaint about the relationship between her and Matt. After the escape, Mitchell told investigators Matt made her feel "special." Her cell phone was also used to call people connected to Matt.
Mitchell was also described by her ex-husband and former friends as a 'sex-crazed homewrecker' who had carried out an affair at her former factory job. Mitchell faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Officials are also apparently investigating whether Mitchell's husband, Lyle, was involved at all with the escape. "He is obviously a person of interest because he is related to this person and he works in the facility in the tailor shop as a maintenance provider,” noted Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie. "Right now, we’re going to continue to work with [Joyce], learning more and more from her each day as far as establishing a timeline on how this process occurred and what her involvement was," Wylie said of Mitchell.
Sweat, 34, was imprisoned for life for killing a sheriff's deputy in Broome County, and Matt, 48, was serving a 25-year sentence for killing and dismembering an upstate businessman. During their escape, they managed to cut through their cell's steel walls, traverse the catwalks in the prison's infrastructure, hack into a steam pipe that wasn't in use, and finally climb out through a manhole on the other side of the prison walls.
Meanwhile, investigators continue the manhunt for the two men, are mostly centering it around the Dannemora area. More than 800 law enforcement officers have been called in to aid with the search: "We're coming for you, and we will not stop until you are caught," state police Maj. Charles Guess said yesterday. He added that despite hundreds of tips, "There have been no confirmed sightings" of the men yet.