" ... I just got in over my head. And I couldn't get out. And I couldn't tell anybody," Mitchell told NBC's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview

By Char Adams
September 11, 2015 11:55 AM
NBC

Joyce Mitchell, the prison seamstress who pleaded guilty to helping prison inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat escape New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility in June, said depression pushed her to help the pair.

“I was going through a point in my life – a lot of people go through depression,” Mitchell told NBC’s Matt Lauer exclusively in her first-ever interview.

“A lot of people go through that. And I just got in over my head. And I couldn’t get out. And I couldn’t tell anybody. I couldn’t tell my husband. Couldn’t tell my family. I couldn’t tell my coworkers. I couldn’t tell anybody. There’s nobody you can tell.”

Mitchell, 51, sat down with Lauer in Clinton County Jail for an emotional interview as she awaits sentencing for helping the convicted murders escape the prison in which she worked.

Sweat, 35, pleaded guilty earlier this month to escape and promoting contraband charges. Matt, 48, was killed by law enforcement after the two spent weeks on the run.

Mitchell had a sexual relationship with the inmates. But the married mother told Lauer in the candid interview that although “it’s hard to believe,” she loves her husband. She added: “And I’ve always loved my husband.”

Several reports have revealed the nature of Mitchell’s relationship with Matt, and when Lauer asked if Matt had “complete control” over her, Mitchell responded “Yes.”

“He was – he was good at that,” she said.

One former co-worker told PEOPLE that Mitchell, who was known as “Tillie,” was known for her one-track mind: “She would talk about men. That’s all she would talk about,” the co-worker said.

Long before Mitchell became involved with Matt and Sweat, she was at the center of another love triangle with her first husband, Tobey Premo, and her current husband, according to Helen Premo, Tobey Premo’s ex-wife, who spoke with PEOPLE.

“She cheated on Tobey with the man she is married to. They all worked together. He was a basket case when I met him. He was devastated,” Premo told PEOPLE.

Premo told PEOPLE, “It’s kind of boring where they live. You’re not going to find a lot of excitement. It’s near the Adirondacks. Even so, she was married, had a wonderful son, a house, a good job and a decent life and she blew it.”

The interview will air in two parts on Monday and Friday, Sept. 14 and 18 on NBC’s Today as a special two-hour Dateline.

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