The 48-year-old woman authorities believe may have helped two convicted murderers escape from prison has been charged with providing material assistance to them, officials said
Credit: Courtesy Facebook

Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailor shop worker who authorities say may have helped two convicted murderers to escape from a maximum-security prison last weekend has been arrested, officials said Friday night.

Mitchell, 48, was charged with providing material assistance to the escapees, officials said in a press conference. She has been charged with promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a class D felony, and criminal facilitation in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanor.

“There is some information that [Mitchell] provided some form of equipment or tools” to the convicts, Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, said Clinton County’s District Attorney Andrew Wylie in an interview with CNN. Other reports clarify that Mitchell did not provide power tools, but other contraband. CNN says that a prison employee provided hacksaw blades, lighted glasses and drill bits to the prisoners.

Authorities have said they believe that Mitchell was supposed to pick up the prisoners after their escape, but changed her mind at the last minute. She ended up checking into the prison hospital instead, citing a “case of nerves,” CNN reported.

The prisoners, who have violent histories, were last seen at 10:30 p.m. on Friday before they escaped from the maximum-security unit at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, which is about 25 miles from the Canadian border. Their escape was the first since the prison opened in 1845.

The pair cut through steel walls before crawling through an underground tunnel and climbing out of a manhole.

Since their daring escape, police have been investigating Mitchell as a person of interest.

Another source told CNN that Mitchell’s cell phone was used to call several people connected to Matt. It was not clear who made these calls or when they took place.

Her son has come to her defense, insisting his mother would never do something so brazen. “She’s not the kind of person that’s going to risk her life or other people’s lives to let these guys escape from prison,” Tobey Mitchell told NBC.

Mitchell’s longtime neighbor, Sharon Currier, told PEOPLE she hasn t seen her since last weekend. “I can’t believe she would do anything like this,” she says.

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.