Thursday 18 January 2018

Prison worker in court as hunt for jail escapees continues

A US appeals court temporarily blocked the release of Albert Woodfox
A US appeals court temporarily blocked the release of Albert Woodfox

John Kekis

The massive manhunt for two convicted killers resumed yesterday on the morning after a worker at an upstate New York maximum-security prison was charged with smuggling in hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit to help the men escape.

More than 800 law enforcement officers have joined the search, concentrating in a rural area in the Adirondacks near the Canadian border around the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. Residents in the area reported seeing two men jumping a stone wall on Friday.

Prison tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell (51), was arraigned late Friday night on a felony charge of promoting prison contraband and a misdemeanour count of criminal facilitation.

Mitchell is accused of befriending inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt and giving them the contraband, according to criminal complaints.

District Attorney Andrew Wylie said earlier the contraband didn’t include the power tools the men used to cut holes in their cell walls and a steam pipe to escape through a manhole last weekend.

Wearing a green short-sleeved top and jeans, Mitchell entered the courtroom with her hands cuffed in front of her. She looked scared and did not speak. She was ordered to be held in jail on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond and is back in court tomorrow.

At a news conference after her arrest, state police Maj. Charles Guess said officers were getting closer with every step they take on the ground and in the investigation.

“We’re coming for you, and we will not stop until you are caught,” Guess said in addressing the escapees.

Although searchers were contending with bad weather, so were Sweat and Matt, the major said. “They’ve got to be cold, wet, tired and hungry” if they haven’t escaped the area or found shelter, he said.

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