Female prison worker supplied tools to New York escapees: CNN

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 12, 2015 9:00 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A female prison worker "provided some form of equipment or tools" to two escapees from an upstate New York correctional center whom authorities are hunting for a seventh day, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told CNN on Friday.

Joyce Mitchell, an industrial training supervisor in the tailor shop at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, was being questioned about her possible role in the prison break of convicted killers Richard Matt, 48 and David Sweat 34, authorities said.

"There is information as far as the contraband that (Joyce Mitchell) did provide to both Matt and Sweat," Wylie told CNN. The prosecutor told CNN she "provided some form of equipment or tools."

Mitchell was previously investigated by the Inspector General's office of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision after a coworker filed a complaint about her seemingly close relationship with Matt, the Albany Times Union reported, citing two unnamed people with knowledge of the case. No disciplinary action resulted from the investigation.

Other prison employees are being questioned about possibly helping in the elaborate escape, which was discovered last weekend and involved cutting through steel walls and squeezing through a steam pipe and out a manhole, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Thursday.

"We're talking to several people who may have facilitated the escape," Cuomo said.

If other prison workers are found to have assisted, the governor said, "you will be convicted and then you'll be on the other side of the prison you have been policing."

More than 500 law enforcement officers, along with sniffer dogs and aviation units, were involved in the manhunt, along with the FBI and other agencies, New York State Police said.

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Their search remained focused on Friday on a heavily wooded area just a few miles from the maximum security facility, located about 20 miles (32 km) south of the Canadian border, police said.

Area schools in the Saranac Central School District remained closed for a second day on Friday "in order to assist law enforcement personnel with their search efforts," schools Superintendent Jonathan Parks said in a statement.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Christian Plumb)