Prison Worker Joyce Mitchell: 'I Was Caught Up in the Fantasy' of Running Away with Two Escaped Convicts
The 51-year-old pleaded guilty Tuesday to helping two convicted murderers escape, saying once she started helping them, 'I didnt really feel I could stop'
Joyce Mitchell’s confession to police shows how deeply involved she became with the two inmates she helped escape from prison last month.
The 51-year-old prison tailor shop worker, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to helping them flee the prison, told authorities she shared an “open-mouth kiss” with one of the men and performed sexual acts on him – and sent X-rated selfies to the other, NBC News is reporting.
“I believe I helped Inmate Matt and Inmate Sweat escape because I was caught up in the fantasy,” she said in one of three statements obtained by NBC News. “I enjoyed the attention, the feeling both of them gave me and the thought of a different life.”
She also told investigators that she knew convicted felons Richard Matt and David Sweat had planned to kill her husband, Lyle Mitchell, according to police documents obtained by NBC News.
Mitchell told authorities she decided not to go pick up the men after they escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, because she loved her husband too much.
After three weeks on the run in upstate New York, Matt was shot and killed on June 26 by law enforcement officers in Malone, about 20 miles from the prison. Sweat was shot and captured alive in Constable on June 28.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to bringing contraband into the prison, which is a felony, and to criminal facilitation, which is a misdemeanor. She still faces up to seven years in prison.
“Ms. Mitchell pleaded guilty to the two charges lodged against her because she did commit those offenses and to avoid the possibility of having to face additional charges,” her attorney, Stephen Johnston, tells PEOPLE. “She is scheduled to be sentenced September 28.”
How Mitchell’s Sexual Relationship with the Inmates Began
In court documents obtained by NBC News, Mitchell said she met Matt in 2008 and Sweat later on. “Inmate Matt and I got along well,” she said. “We talked every day and he treated me with respect and was nice to me. He made me feel special.”
Their relationship began to deepen when Matt asked her to contact his daughter to see if she had gotten some paintings he had sent her. She called his daughter, saying she knew “it was wrong” but that she did it “as a favor to her father.”
She said she stayed in contact with his daughter via text, adding that his daughter “told me she was glad her father had someone on the inside who was looking out for him.”
She said she brought Matt two pairs of glasses with lights that she had ordered from eBay. They told her they “were going to use them to paint at night,” she said.
In April, she said, when she was alone with Matt in the tailor shop, “he grabbed me and kissed me. It startled me. He kissed me with an open mouth kiss. I didn’t say anything because I was scared for my husband, who also works in the facility.”
Shortly after that, she said, Matt asked her to bring him a screw driver bit. “He did not say why he needed it,” she said.
Their relationship escalated further in May, she said, when Matt asked her to perform oral sex on him. “I was scared,” she said.
After that, she said Matt would come to her desk “with his big coat on,” asking her to touch his genitals. “He had cut a hole in the inside of his coat pocket,” she said. “He told me to pretend I was going to give him a piece of candy and reach into his coat pocket.”
“This happened two or three times,” she said. “The only other physical contact I had with Inmate Matt was when he kissed me at the bottom of the first set of stairs. He never touched any of my private areas.”
In another statement Mitchell gave police, she said she gave notes to Matt to give to Sweat, who was re-assigned to another location to work after an allegation that Sweat was romantically involved with her.
“Some of those notes were of a sexual nature but I never had any sexual contact with Inmate Sweat, only Inmate Matt. I did take some naked photos of my breasts and vagina and gave them to Inmate Matt to give to Inmate Sweat. I do not know what they did with the photos.”
After giving Matt the hacksaw blades he asked for, she found out that he and Sweat had cut holes in the walls of their cells and were going down into the pipes, which he later admitted to her, she said. He said they had found a box of power tools they were using to cut into the underground pipe system.
She continued to help them, saying, “I was already bringing stuff to him and I didn’t really feel I could stop,” she said. “Matt told me they were getting out and we were all going to be together.”
On the day of the escape, she told authorities that Matt told her to give her husband two pills that he had somehow obtained.
“These two pills were intended to knock Lyle out so I could leave the house,” she said. “After Lyle was asleep, I was supposed to drive to Dannemora and meet them by the powerhouse.”
“The agreed-upon meeting time was midnight. I was to drive my Jeep and bring my cellphone, GPS, clothes, a gun, tents, sleeping bags, hatchet, fishing poles and money from a package I never picked up,” she added.
“After I picked them up, the plan was to drive to my home and Inmate Matt was going to kill ‘the glitch,’ ” which is what she said Matt called her husband.
But Mitchell had second thoughts and never showed up.
“I know I had agreed to help them escape and run away with them, but I panicked and couldn’t follow through with the rest of the plan,” she explained. “I really do love my husband and he’s the reason.”
She added: “I am really sorry for what I have done.”
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.