NEW YORK — Multiple reports coming out of upstate New York Monday indicated investigators believe the prison worker charged with helping two killers escape from maximum-security had a sexual affair with both inmates behind bars before the daring escape.
Joyce Mitchell, 51, appeared in court in Plattsburgh Monday, wearing black and white jailhouse stripes, as information surfaced that the married mom had intimate relations with David Sweat, 34, one of the convicted killers now on the lam, and eventually, with Richard Matt, 48, also a convicted murderer.
Sweat was convicted in the 2002 shooting death of Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Tarsia.
Before the escape, officials at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. had investigated a complaint of an inappropriate relationship between Sweat and Mitchell, a seamstress in the prison tailoring shop.
The complaint could not be proven. Mitchell remained in the shop, where she supervised a work program for Sweat, who was transferred out. Reports state that Matt then began working under Mitchell's supervision and they began a sexual affair.
Matt was serving life in prison for the 1997 murder and dismemberment of his former boss.
ALLEGED MURDER PLOT AGAINST HUSBAND
Joyce Mitchell immediately fell under suspicion, after the inmates staged an amazing escape that was discovered at 5:30 am on Saturday, June 6th.
During lengthy interrogations of Mitchell by the state police, she confessed that she provided tools for the prisoners to cut through steel vents, steam pipes, and brick walls.
She was supposed to pick up Sweat and Matt, after they reached a manhole outside the prison grounds.
Mitchell was reportedly then planning to drive the two, stone-cold killers to her family home in Dickinson, N.Y. —an hour from Dannemora — where the escapees would murder her husband, Lyle, another prison employee, according to reporting in The Daily News.
Mitchell reportedly told investigators she was planning to run off with the convicts to a location about seven hours away from the prison.
But Mitchell chickened out, after suffering panic attacks and going to a hospital emergency room.
The Clinton County District Attorney, Andrew Wylie, said: “One of the reasons she didn’t show up is because she loves her husband.”
The inmates were left in the lurch, but calls were made to associates of Matt, by someone using Joyce Mitchell’s cell phone.
There has been no confirmed sighting of David Sweat and Richard Matt since they vanished ten days ago.
GOVERNOR ORDERS INVESTIGATION BY INSPECTOR GENERAL
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on Monday, directed the New York State Inspector General, Catherine Leahy Scott, to conduct an investigation of “all factors potentially involved in the escape of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat from Clinton Correctional Facility.”
The IG will retain the services of an outside expert in corrections and law enforcement to look at issues like “prison design, operations, and security--with a view toward identifying how these inmates were able to escape, and recommend any potential reforms and best practices to prevent future incidents.”
The governor said: “Capturing these killers and returning them to state custody remains our top priority—however, it’s critically important to examine the circumstances that enabled these inmates to escape in the first place.”
The great getaway was the first, successful escape from maximum-security at Clinton since the prison was built in 1865, during the Civil War.
On Saturday, June 6, the governor ditched plans to attend the Belmont Stakes and physically traced part of the escape route the prisoners took to freedom.
Clinton Correctional is only about twenty miles south of the Canadian border.
There was information Sweat and Matt were going to escape to a cabin in Vermont but, so far, no tip has turned up any sign of them.
800 LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL IN MANHUNT
The hunt for Sweat and Matt has spawned a mammoth turnout of local, state and federal law enforcement. The FBI, U.S. Marshals, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, are among the federal agencies joining the Department of Corrections and Forest Rangers searching for the killers. Nearly a thousand leads have been developed since the escape.
A $100,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the capture of both fugitives. Anyone with information is advised to call 911 or 518-563-3761. You can also contact 1-800-GIVETIP or e-mail information at firstname.lastname@example.org.