Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told CNN’s “New Day” that Joyce Mitchell“provided some form of equipment or tools” to fugitive felons Richard Matt and David Sweat.
Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation later elaborated about the hacksaw blades, with one of the sources mentioning the drill bits and the two pairs of special glasses given to to Matt. They were purchased over the past few months.
Matt and Sweat used power tools to cut through cell walls that included a steel plate and sever a 24-inch steam pipe — once to get in and once more to get out — and surfaced through a manhole. Despite all the time, effort and noise likely involved, authorities didn’t learn anything was awry until a bed check at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
Authorities strongly believe the fugitives are still together after deciding to continue their escape as a pair, two law enforcement sources briefed on the matter said Friday.
A search perimeter was established, one of the sources said, after an officer saw someone entering a wooded area at nightfall Wednesday.
A tactical search team discovered human tracks and bloodhounds picked up the scent of the felons — leading investigators to the area where the two men apparently bedded down. Wrappers found at that area were consistent with food wrappers from the prison commissary, according to the source.
The inmates knew Mitchell from her work tailoring clothes as an industrial training supervisor at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. She has not been arrested. She hasn’t spoken publicly. And her relatives have denied she did anything wrong.
Authorities have a different take, however.
State Department of Corrections officials had received a complaint about the relationship between her and one of the two escapees, according to a state official. The department didn’t find enough evidence to support the complaint, though that does not mean the inmate and prison worker weren’t close.
“I don’t believe that the information was that there was absolutely no relationship,” said Wylie, the district attorney.
Mitchell told investigators Matt made her feel “special,” though she didn’t mention being in love with him, a source familiar with the investigation said.
New York escapees
Her cell phone was used to call people connected to Matt, according to another source, though it’s not known who made these calls. And New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said authorities believe she planned to pick up the inmates after their escape only to change her mind at the last minute.
Mitchell will at some point face felony charges, tied to being an accessory to the escape and/or providing prison contraband. Yet the threat of prosecution hasn’t stopped her from regularly and voluntarily providing useful information to investigators, with the district attorney speculating she feels “some responsibility and guilt … and wants to help that situation or help herself.”
“She does not exercise her right to request an attorney, she voluntarily seeks us out,” Wylie said Thursday night. “(She) comes in and each day has been providing … additional information that’s assisted the investigators.”