NEW YORK — 42-year old Joyce Mitchell, a married mom who teaches sewing to inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora, found herself inserted into international headlines this week, after state police questioned her about the daring escape of two, convicted killers from the maximum-security prison.
Her name emerged as one of the Clinton employees who was interrogated, as state and federal officers flooded Willsboro, New York—thirty miles from the prison—acting on a tip that two men were seen there walking in a driving rainstorm Monday night.
34-year-old David Sweat—convicted in the 2002 fatal shooting of a deputy sheriff—and 48 year old Richard Matt, who killed and dismembered his old boss in 1997 — used power tools to escape from their adjoining cells Friday night into Saturday.
They cut their way through pipes and a two-foot thick, brick wall to ultimately slither through a sewer on the way to a manhole on a street, outside the prison.
The prisoners’ escape was not discovered until 5:30 a.m., Saturday.
Mitchell is married to another employee at the prison, and the trash cans near their home--an hour away from the facility—were reportedly searched Saturday, after the inmates went missing.
Mitchell spoke to police Saturday and then went to a local hospital upstate, complaining of chest pains.
Mitchell has worked at the correctional facility in Dannemora since 2008, and she was a training supervisor in the tailoring department. The two convicted killers worked in that unit; the Daily News reported they sewed uniforms for Metro North employees.
After Governor Cuomo traced the route of their great escape this past Saturday, looking at the catwalk and pipe space they scaled—six stories to the ground floor—he proclaimed the inmates almost certainly had some kind of inside assistance.
Joyce Mitchell’s son, Tobey, staunchly defended his mother to NBC News Tuesday, saying “She’s not going to risk her life or other people’s lives to help these guys escape.”
He shot down suggestions Mitchell may have had a relationship with one of the inmates.
New details emerged Tuesday that one of the killers was allowed to keep a guitar case in his cell. It’s believed the power tool was kept in the case.
A resident near the prison reported seeing two men walking near the facility in the early hours of Saturday; one of the men was carrying a guitar case.