Joyce Mitchell Shackled at Court Amid Claim She May Have Plotted to Kill Husband with Escaped Prisoners

Neighbor asks of inmates on the loose: "I wonder if they planned on killing her too"

Photo: G.N. Miller/Pool/Getty

An alleged plot by New York prison worker Joyce Mitchell to help two convicted killers escape may have included their assistance in killing Mitchell’s husband.

A law-enforcement source told The Albany Times-Union that Mitchell, 51, who was arrested on Friday, had discussed a plan to pick up the escapees, who might then possibly murder Mitchell’s husband, Lyle, before fleeing to an undisclosed location.

Richard W. Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 35, remain on the loose.

On Monday, Joyce Mitchell appeared in court, where she spoke only briefly as the case was transferred to Clinton County, The New York Times reports. Her attorney, Stephen Johnston, declined comment.

A longtime neighbor of Mitchell’s, Sharon Currier, 70, tells PEOPLE: “I wonder if they planned on killing her, too. She was a witness, after all.”

Mitchell, who was a supervisor in the tailor shop at the Clinton Correctional Facility, is charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a felony, and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor. Court papers say she provided Matt and Sweat with hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit, according to the Times.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Currier, who has known Joyce Mitchell since she was a child, tells PEOPLE: “I can’t believe she would help some inmate like that.”

Responding to the allegation that Mitchell had targeted her own husband, Currier says, “It seemed like she and Lyle had a happy marriage. They were always together and were always smiling whenever I saw them.”

She adds: “I never thought they had problems.”

“She’s a hard worker,” Currier says. “She always had a smile on her face. She always seemed very happy. But of course, you don’t know what your neighbor is doing.”

Lyle Mitchell, who is a maintenance worker at the prison, is a former firefighter with three children from a previous marriage, Currier says. She and Joyce Mitchell volunteered together at the firehouse, helping with meals.

“We’d all talk and laugh and have a good time. She always volunteered,” she said. “So based on that, you wouldn t think she would act like this, either. She didn’t act like she was wild or anything.”

“I just can’t believe she’d do something like this. She’s not somebody who’s off the wall.”

Reporting by K.C. BAKER

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