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DA: Joyce Mitchell planned to drive for 7 hours with convicted killers

Posted at 8:03 PM, Jun 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-14 00:47:24-04

As a manhunt for two convicted killers continues in upstate New York, more details are emerging about the woman accused of helping them plot their daring escape.

Joyce Mitchell allegedly provided Richard Matt and David Sweat with the tools to cut through prison walls for their escape last week.

She supplied them with power tools, including hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit, according to court records.

In addition to the tools, Mitchell planned to pick them up but got cold feet, authorities said.

“They were going to meet down by the power plant, drive, I’m not going to say into the sunset, because it was after midnight and it was dark out, but they were going to drive … potentially to an area that was about seven hours away,” Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Saturday.

Mitchell did not say where they would head after the two prisoners broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, officials said.

“That was the information that she was told by Matt and Sweat — that it was about seven hours away,” Wylie said.

But Mitchell had a change of heart.

“Joyce Mitchell ditched the plan to pick up the two inmates partly because she loves her husband and she didn’t want to do this to him,” Wylie said.

He said he reviewed documents from investigators, and it appears Mitchell and the prisoners rehearsed their plan.

“From interviews with other inmates, there is an indication the two convicts had cell phones before they escaped,” he said. “But we have no proof of these cell phones.”

Mitchell’s in custody; convicts are on the run

Mitchell is sitting in jail, accused of aiding in the daring prison escape. The two convicted killers she allegedly helped are free, but on the run.

She allegedly brought the power tools to the prison on May 1, according to court records.

She pleaded not guilty Friday night to a felony charge of promoting prison contraband and a misdemeanor charge of criminal facilitation. Her next court appearance is Monday.

If convicted, Mitchell faces up to eight years behind bars.

Convict made her feel ‘special’

Matt and Sweat were discovered missing on June 6 during a 5:30 a.m. bed check at Clinton Correctional Facility.

While making their escape, they slipped through holes and cut into a steel plate and a steam pipe, then got out through a manhole and onto the street.

Mitchell has told investigators that Matt made her feel “special,” a source familiar with the investigation said.

Her husband and prison co-worker, Lyle Mitchell, is also under investigation, but has not been arrested or charged, authorities said. He worked in the maintenance department at the tailoring block where his spouse was employed, Wylie said.

State Department of Corrections officials had received a complaint about the relationship between Joyce Mitchell and one of the two escapees. The department didn’t find enough evidence to support the complaint, but that does not mean there was no relationship, Wylie said.

Intensified search

More than 800 state, local and federal law enforcement officers are searching for the escapees, New York State Police said. They have been following more than 700 leads developed in the weeklong manhunt.

Sweat was serving a life sentence with no chance of parole in the murder of a Broome County sheriff’s deputy in 2002. Matt was sentenced to 25 years to life in the kidnapping and murder of a man in 1997.

The manhunt for the convicts continues in Plattsburgh town in upstate New York, where authorities have shut a portion of highway 374.

Tracking dogs picked up their scent this week at a gas station, where authorities believe they were rummaging through trash at a sandwich shop.