The Latest on prison escape: Civilian worker questioned

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 4:25 PM
The Latest on prison escape: Civilian worker questioned

4:20 p.m. (EDT)

New York authorities say they have been questioning a civilian employee at the prison where two inmates escaped over the weekend, but aren't revealing any of the information she has provided.

State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico says at a briefing Wednesday that the woman befriended "the inmates and may have had some role in assisting them."

The woman is Joyce Mitchell, an industrial training supervisor at the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. She worked in the prison tailor shop.

There have been no charges or disciplinary action lodged against Mitchell or any of the other civilian employees, guards or contractors who have been questioned about the escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat.

Both were serving life sentences for murder. They used power tools to cut their way out of the prison and escaped late Friday or early Saturday.

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4 p.m. (EDT)

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says police in his state are on alert and a public awareness campaign is being launched in case the escaped convicts from northern New York try to take refuge in Vermont.

Shumlin and Col. Thomas L'Esperance of Vermont State Police joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a media briefing Wednesday afternoon at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. Shumlin says the awareness campaign will include information posted at campgrounds and state parks where people may not be tuned in to the latest news.

Cuomo says investigators received information suggesting Vermont was discussed by inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt as a possible destination.

Cuomo says the inmates could have had a head start of as much as six hours before their absence was discovered around dawn Saturday.

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2:40 p.m. (EDT)

The escape of two inmates from an upstate New York prison has drawn comparisons to "Shawshank Redemption." One of the people making the connection: Stephen King.

The fictional 1994 movie is based on a novella by the author. In it, inmate Andy Dufresne painstakingly whittles away at his cell wall with a hammer and crawls through a sewer line to escape.

Over the weekend, authorities say, real-life escapees David Sweat and Richard Matt used power tools to cut through steel walls in their cells. Officials say they cut through a steam pipe and emerged in a manhole cover on a street.

In a tweet Wednesday, King acknowledges the escape at the state prison in Dannemora "was a bit like Shawshank."

His explanation? "Sometimes life imitates art, that's all."

But he also notes one difference. He calls the real-life escapees "bad, bad boys."

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2:25 p.m. (EDT)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin are heading to the state prison at Dannemora, New York, to hold a media briefing.

Cuomo's office says the governors will discuss the latest developments in the search for escaped murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt. The briefing is planned for approximately 3:15 p.m.

Corrections officers in helmets and body armor are searching houses near the northern New York prison for the fifth day. Authorities say the house searches aren't the result of any new leads.

Law enforcement officials also renewed their plea for the public's help in reporting anything unusual in the area since the prison break, which was discovered early Saturday.

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2 p.m. (EDT)

State police say more than 50 digital billboards in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are displaying mugshots and information about the two men who escaped from a northern New York prison.

Troopers say Wednesday the billboards donated by Lamar Advertising are part of a continuing effort to notify the public of the escape and generate new leads in the case.

The billboards feature information about 48-year-old Richard Matt and 34-year-old David Sweat. The convicted murderers were discovered missing from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora early Saturday.

The billboards are across New York; near Boston, Massachusetts; and in north central and Erie, Pennsylvania.

Corrections officers in helmets and body armor also are searching houses near the northern New York prison.

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12:20 p.m. (EDT)

Corrections officers in helmets and body armor are searching houses near the northern New York prison where two killers escaped, along with state police and dogs.

The search for David Sweat and Richard Matt entered its fifth day on Wednesday. Authorities say the pair cut their way out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora last weekend.

Dannemora resident Barbara McCasland says officers asked to search her home Wednesday, but she said no. She says her windows are locked and her house is battened down.

McCasland says she wasn't nervous when she first heard the convicted murderers are on the loose. But she's growing more concerned with each passing day.

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This story has been corrected to show that corrections officers, not troopers, were wearing helmets and body armor.

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11:15 a.m. (EDT)

Unions representing guards and civilian staff at the northern New York prison where two killers escaped say many have been questioned by investigators but none has been suspended, disciplined or charged with wrongdoing five days after the getaway was discovered.

Among them is Joyce Mitchell, an industrial training supervisor at maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility.

Her son tells NBC that his mother, an instructor in the tailor shop where Richard Matt and David Sweat worked, wouldn't have helped them escape.

Tobey Mitchell says his mother checked herself into a hospital Saturday with chest pains.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the men must have had help in cutting their way through a steel cell wall and steam pipes with a power tool.

The Civil Service Employees Association says many of its 150 civilian employees have been questioned.

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9:30 a.m. (EDT)

Authorities say they're resuming searches of northern New York homes located near the maximum-security prison where two killers escaped using power tools.

State Police say the fifth day of searching will include going from house to house in Dannemora, where David Sweat and Richard Matt cut their way out of Clinton Correctional Facility.

Troopers say the house searches aren't the result of any new leads.

Law enforcement officials also renewed their plea for the public's help in reporting anything unusual in the area since the prison break, which was discovered early Saturday.

A search Tuesday in a rural town about 30 miles from the prison turned up no sign of the convicts. The search was prompted by reports of two men seen walked along a road in Willsboro.

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8:30 a.m. (EDT)

The mother of one of the two escapees from a maximum-security prison in northern New York says she wants "nothing to do" with her son now that he's the subject of a massive manhunt.

Pamela Sweat of Conklin told the Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton (http://press.sn/1S40rmW ) on Tuesday that 34-year-old David Sweat's childhood was marked by behavioral problems and violent tendencies.

Authorities say Sweat and fellow murderer 48-year-old Richard Matt broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora last weekend by using power tools to cut through steel walls and pipes. They remain at large Wednesday.

David Sweat was sent to prison for killing a sheriff's deputy near Binghamton in 2002.

His mother says she and her son wrote to each other several times a month, but his letters stopped about two months ago.