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Prison Seamstress Is Charged With Assisting In Murderers' Upstate Escape

Joyce Mitchell
Joyce Mitchell Photo Credit: New York State Police
Escaped prisoner Richard Matt, 48
Escaped prisoner Richard Matt, 48 Photo Credit: New York State Police
Escaped prison David Sweat, 34
Escaped prison David Sweat, 34 Photo Credit: New York State Police

DANNEMORA, N.Y. -- Joyce Mitchell, the prison employee at Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York who authorities say assisted two convicted murderers in their escape, has been arrested.

Mitchell, 51, who worked as a seamstress at the prison, provided hacksaw blades, drill bits and lighted eyeglasses to prisoners Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, sources told CNN.

Mitchell has been charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a class D felony, and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree, a Class A misdemeanor, state police said in a statement.

Her next  court appearance is scheduled for Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the City of Plattsburgh Court.

Mitchell also may have planned on picking up the escaped prisoners Saturday, but instead went to the hospital at the time of the escape, complaining of panic attacks, according to CNN.

Mitchell, who worked with Matt and Sweat in the tailor shop at the prison, reportedly told authorities who have been questioning her that the prisoners made her "feel special."

There have been reports Mitchell had relationships with both prisoners and that Mitchell's husband, a maintenance worker at the prison, may have been aware of the escape plot.

The manhunt for the escapees continues to be focused along State Route 374 in the town of Plattsburgh, which remains closed.

The search involves more than 800 law enforcement personnel, along with K9 and aviation units. State Police are being assisted by the FBI, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, officers from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Department of Environmental Conservation, Forest Rangers, Clinton and Essex County Sheriff Departments, and the Plattsburgh Police Department.

Matt, from Tonawanda, N.Y. (located between Niagara Falls and Buffalo), is a white male, 6-feet tall, 210 pounds, with black hair and hazel eyes, state police said. He has tattoos on back “Mexico Forever,” a heart on his chest and left shoulder, and a marine corps insignia on his right shoulder.

Sweat, also a white male, is 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes, according to state police. He has tattoos on his left bicep and his right fingers.

Matt is serving a sentence of 25 years to life following his conviction in Niagara County after he kidnapped a male victim and caused his death by beating him on Dec. 3, 1997.

Sweat, from Dickinson, N.Y. (located east of Potsdam), is serving a sentence of life without parole following his conviction in Broome County for one count of first-degree murder after he caused the death of a Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy on July 4, 2002.

The public should make no hesitation to report any suspicious activity; that includes any sign of a trespass, burglary or vehicle larceny, police advise. Contact 911, your local law enforcement agency, or the New York State Police to report any information related to this investigation at (518) 563-3761 or 1-800-GIVETIP. Tips can also be sent by email to crimetip@troopers.ny.gov.

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