Ar­rest made in pri­son es­cape

New York search for 2 killers con­tin­ues as jail em­ployee is charged. It’s not clear how she may have aided them.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Tina Susman tina.susman@la­ Twit­ter: @tina­sus­man

NEW YORK — A pri­son em­ployee was ar­rested and charged Fri­day in con­nec­tion with the bold es­cape of two killers, who re­mained on the loose a week af­ter us­ing power tools to cut their way to free­dom.

Joyce Mitchell, 51, of Dickinson Cen­ter, N.Y., was charged with pro­mot­ing pri­son con­tra­band in the first de­gree, a felony, and crim­i­nal fa­cil­i­ta­tion in the fourth de­gree, a mis­de­meanor, law en­force­ment of­fi­cials an­nounced at a news con­fer­ence in Saranac. The charges came af­ter Mitchell re­port­edly told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that she had brought con­tra­band into Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in Dannemora.

As Mitchell was be­ing charged, hun­dreds of po­lice were scour­ing the woods, lakes, res­i­den­tial backyards and camp­grounds of north­east­ern New York in search of Richard Matt and David Sweat, who were dis­cov­ered miss­ing last Satur­day morn­ing.

“We have a mes­sage for David Sweat and Richard Matt: We’re com­ing for you,” Maj. Charles Guess of the New York State Po­lice said.

Guess said the search con­tin­ued to fo­cus on the area around the pri­son be- cause there was no ev­i­dence ei­ther man had fled north to Canada or across the state line. While drench­ing rain and cool tem­per­a­tures have made it dif­fi­cult for searchers, Guess said the weather also could ben­e­fit them by wear­ing down Matt and Sweat.

“You’ve got to as­sume they’re cold, wet, tired and hun­gry,” he said. But he also warned that this could make the two men even more des­per­ate.

The ex­tent of Mitchell’s in­volve­ment with the men was not clear. Ear­lier, Clin­ton County Dist. Atty. An­drew Wylie said the pri­son had looked into re­ports in the last year that she had a close re­la­tion­ship with one of the men, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tion did not turn up enough ev­i­dence to block her from the fa­cil­ity or take other dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

Mitchell, a civil­ian, works as a su­per­vi­sor in the pris- on’s tailor­ing shop and has been em­ployed there since 2010, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal news re­ports. Her hus­band, Lyle, also works at the pri­son but has not been ac­cused of in­volve­ment in the es­cape.

Since Matt and Sweat dis­ap­peared, po­lice have re­ceived hun­dreds of tips, but Guess said there had been no con­firmed sight­ings of the pair. A $100,000 re­ward is be­ing of­fered for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to their ar­rest.

A Philadel­phia cab driver re­ported he may have given the two men a ride, but po­lice said his pas­sen­gers were not the killers. Blood­hounds picked up a scent a cou­ple of miles from the pri­son, sug­gest­ing the men had not got­ten far. There have been re­ports of mys­te­ri­ous food wrap­pers, a foot­print and signs of a makeshift camp­ground in the woods.

Res­i­dents re­ported see­ing mys­te­ri­ous men walk­ing down a rain-drenched road and leap­ing over a backyard fence.

As for Mitchell, Wylie said that the “con­tra­band” she smug­gled into the pri­son could mean any­thing from tooth­paste to saw blades. He would not elab­o­rate, but he de­nied some news re­ports that Mitchell had brought power tools into the fa­cil­ity.

Matt, who kid­napped and killed a busi­ness­man in 1997, and Sweat, who killed a sher­iff ’s deputy in 2002, have de­fied the odds in re­main­ing free this long, ac­cord­ing to pri­son-es­cape data com­piled by the New York State Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions and Com­mu­nity Su­per­vi­sion.

Of 29 in­mates who es­caped from New York state prisons from 2002 to 2012, none was loose for more than three days be­fore be­ing re­cap­tured.

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