Former prison worker Joyce Mitchell pleaded guilty this week in relation to her role in the sensational June escape of two inmates in upstate New York. As part of her plea, she submitted detailed statements of her involvement with the convicted murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt.
Sexually graphic in parts, her confession describes how her relationship with one of the inmates, Matt, developed and how and why she brought tools into the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora that the prisoners used to tunnel their way to freedom.
Here are 10 revelations in Mitchell’s confession:
1. Mitchell, who ran the prison’s tailor shop, met Sweat and Matt, who were assigned jobs there.
“Sweat was a good worker and was always very nice to me. We became close but never had a physical relationship. …”
“Inmate Sweat was really close to inmate Matt. They were always together and shared everything. Inmate Matt and I got along well. We talked every day and he treated me with respect and was nice to me. He made me feel special.”
2. Within a month, Matt moved the relationship along by asking Mitchell to contact his daughter. Mitchell contacted the daughter more than once, and the two had casual conversations.
Mitchell said Matt asked her if she could call his daughter to see if she had received a painting he had sent her. Matt was known in the prison for his artwork.
“I know it was wrong, but I called his daughter, Jamie, and told her who I was and that I was not supposed to be doing this, but I was doing this as a favor for her father. She asked me to let him know she got the paintings and was doing fine. After that, whenever he wanted me to contact his daughter, I would text her. We mostly talked about the paintings or how Inmate Matt would complain about his back being sore.”
3. In November, Mitchell asked Matt to paint a portrait of her children as an anniversary gift for her husband, Lyle Mitchell. She gave the inmate things as payment.
“After the first time I spoke with Jamie, I went on the Internet and looked at some of the Inmate Matt’s pictures and they were very good,” she said.
In exchange for the painting, she agreed to buy him a pair of speed bag boxing gloves, the confession says.
Matt gave her a prison-approved catalog from which she could order.
Matt also asked for, and he received from Mitchell, two pairs of glasses with lights on them. He told her that he and Sweat planned to paint at night.
4. Mitchell’s anniversary passed, and she didn’t get the painting, but she continued to bring things to Matt, including brownies, cookies, pepper and other food.
In April, he became sexually violent with her.
“Matt grabbed me and kissed me. It startled me. … I didn’t say anything because I was scared for my husband, who also works in the facility.”
She said Matt forced her to perform oral sex on him, which she did. She also said he forced her to aggressively touch his penis.
5. Even after Mitchell knew the two inmates were digging a hole, she kept providing them tools.
“He initially told me it was for making frames, but I later found out that (Sweat and Matt) had cut a hole in the wall and were going down into the pipes. Sometime around this time, I also bought them batteries for the glasses I had given them. I found out about the hole because inmate Matt was coming into work tired. I asked him about sleeping and he said he was up all night. After a couple days, he told me he and inmate Sweat had cut the holes and were going down in the pipes.”
6. She knew Matt and Sweat were planning to escape.
“Inmate Matt told me they had found a tool box with power tools under the facility. They were using them to get out through the pipe system. Inmate Matt told me they were getting out and we were all going to be together. By this he meant inmate Sweat, him and I.”
7. Mitchell was asked to call a person to help coordinate the escape.
Matt asked Mitchell to call a number and pretend she worked at a doctor’s office and say she wanted to confirm an appointment, giving the time and date.
“He told me they would bring me a package and I was supposed to bring it to him,” Mitchell’s confession reads.
“I started to call the number that night at 6:06 p.m. but got scared and hung up, before it rang,” she said. She did that several times but hung up.
8. On the night of the escape, Matt asked Mitchell to bring him a shotgun.
“The plan was that I was going to leave my husband and meet him there and we were all going to be together. He did not say where we were going to go. He asked me to bring a shotgun that he could saw off.”
9. Mitchell was to give her husband pills.
“The day they (Sweat and Matt) were supposed to escape I was supposed to give my husband, Lyle, 2 pills. These pills were intended to knock Lyle out so I could leave the house.”
After her husband fell asleep, she said, she was supposed to drive to Dannemora and meet the escapees.
10. The plan entailed Matt killing Mitchell’s husband.
“After I picked them up,” Mitchell said in a statement to law enforcement, “the plan was to drive to my home …” and Matt was going to “kill ‘the glitch.’ “
Matt referred to her husband as “the glitch,” she said.
Mitchell had a panic attack and was hospitalized, she said, matching what was reported widely at that time. Sweat and Matt escaped, with guards discovering them missing June 6.
“I really do love my husband and he’s the reason I didn’t meet” Matt and Sweat, she said.
Mitchell explained she “enjoyed the attention” that the inmates gave her and “the thought of a different life.”
After she received medical care, she said, her phone was exploding with messages saying that police wanted to talk to her.
“I am really sorry,” she said, “for what I have done.”