The prison employee who allegedly helped them has been cooperating with police, they said

By Adam Carlson
Updated June 14, 2015 03:45 PM
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Credit: New York State Police

Two convicted murderers may have rehearsed their complex and ultimately successful plan last week to escape from the maximum-security portion of a New York prison, CNN reports.

Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, meticulously planned their getaway, reports CNN, which involved drilling through steel walls and slipping through a network of underground tunnels before emerging from a nearby manhole.

It’s possible the pair rehearsed the escape in the tunnels beforehand, authorities told CNN. The prisoners were also allegedly seen with cell phones before escaping, authorities said, though they have no proof of that.

The final step of the plan was to be a potentially seven-hour drive to a pre-planned, but undisclosed location, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told CNN. But the prison employee who was to be their driver, a woman named Joyce Mitchell, who Matt made feel “special,” didn’t go through with it.

Mitchell, 48, has since been arrested and charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a class D felony, and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor.

She provided the pair with hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit, court documents allege.

Mitchell had been cooperating with authorities prior to her arrest. She was charged on Friday and has has pleaded not guilty.

She “ditched the plan to pick up the two inmates partly because she loves her husband and she didn’t want to do this to him,” Wylie said.

Mitchell’s husband, Lyle, a maintenance worker at the tailoring block where his wife worked, is also under investigation, authorities told CNN. But he has not been arrested or charged.

Authorities told CNN they have been in contact with friends and family of both Matt and Sweat, but no one said they’ve made contact.

The manhunt now includes 700 leads and more than 800 state, local and federal law enforcement officers, state police told CNN.

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