The husband of the prison worker accused of helping convicts escape was "blown away" after his wife told him about a plot to kill him

By K.C. Baker
Updated June 18, 2015 03:15 PM
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His wife cheated on him with one convicted murderer – or possibly two – in the upstate New York prison where they both work and told him those same inmates were plotting to kill him.

So how is Lyle Mitchell doing?

“He’s in shock, still,” his lawyer, Peter Dumas, told Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview Thursday on the Today show.

“This is a woman he thought was his best friend for 21 years, and now he finds out she was possibly part of a plot to kill him.”

Lyle’s wife, Joyce Mitchell, 51, was arrested on Friday for allegedly helping two convicts escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, where she and Lyle work.

Authorities are still looking for David Sweat, 35, and Richard Matt, 48, who have been on the run since June 6.

Joyce, who worked as an instructor in the prison tailoring shop, has been charged with helping the prisons with their elaborate escape by giving them hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver. She initially agreed to be their getaway driver but backed out at the last minute, checking into the hospital because she had a panic attack and saying she loved her husband too much, say authorities.

Lyle, who is currently on administrative leave with pay, visited his wife in jail on Tuesday, where she is being held on $200,000 bond.

While her lawyer, Stephen Johnston, told NBC News she was “upset and weepy,” Lyle remained calm, visiting her simply to get more information from her, Dumas said.

“This is a woman that he cares deeply about, and he still cares deeply about her,” said Dumas. “He needed some answers. He was just blown away by what was coming out. The fact that she told him that these two inmates had a plot to kill him.”

While Dumas says she did confirm the plot to her husband, “she also had told him that she was not in agreement with it.” He adds: “She was getting threatened by the inmates at that point.”

PEOPLE Editors Discuss N.Y. Prison Escape

Even though Lyle still has feelings for his wife, as far as he is concerned, she is on her own now, says Dumas.

“Lyle still cares about his wife, but he realizes he can’t stand by her, that she’s kind of made her own bed in this situation and he’s got to distance himself from that,” said Dumas.

He says that Lyle knew that Joyce had been investigated by the prison for having an inappropriate relationship with one of the inmates.

“He was aware of it,” said Dumas. “He did talk to his wife about it at the time, and I believe he even talked to the inmate at that time. The inmate came up to him and assured him that there was no inappropriate relationship, (and) his wife assured him there was no inappropriate relationship, that they just worked together.”

For more on Joyce Mitchell and the prisoners’ escape, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands, Friday.

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