Police get 1,200 tips as manhunt for New York inmates enters 12th day

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 17, 2015 11:12 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After more than 1,200 tips from the public, authorities on Wednesday expanded a manhunt for two killers whose brazen escape from an upstate New York prison was discovered 12 days ago.

State police reopened Route 374, a main road from the maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, to Plattsburgh, which had been closed since police sniffer dogs picked up the scent of Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 35, last week.

"The search for escaped inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat is expanding and shifting to other areas surrounding Dannemora," police said in a statement.

Joyce Mitchell, 51, who met the men in her job training convicts in the prison tailor shop, remained in jail, accused of supplying them with hacksaw blades and a screwdriver bit used in the breakout.

"She's distraught. She's very weepy," her lawyer, Stephen Johnston told reporters.

Her husband, Lyle Mitchell, who also works at the prison, visited her in the county jail on Tuesday and there were conflicting media reports about whether he will stand by her.

"There's no way I'm standing behind her," Lyle Mitchell was quoted as saying by his lawyer, Peter Dumas, according to NBC News.

Dumas did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment and CNN quoted Johnston as saying Mitchell vowed to support his wife.

Joyce Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation. If convicted of the charges, she faces up to eight years in prison.

Mitchell was previously investigated after a co-worker complained she had an inappropriate relationship with Sweat, but that investigation concluded without disciplinary action, although they were ordered separated, authorities said.

Matt and Sweat were discovered missing from their adjoining cells early on the morning of June 6. Their elaborate escape involved cutting through a steel wall and slithering through a steam pipe before emerging from a manhole on the street outside the prison, which is about 20 miles south of the Canadian border.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Bill Trott)