Manhunt for Two Escaped Prisoners Enters 9th Day

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The massive manhunt for two escaped prisoners entered its ninth day Sunday, after a prison worker pleaded not guilty to helping the murderers escape a maximum-security facility.

Joyce Mitchell, 51, of Dickinson Center, N.Y., is accused of “providing material assistance” to Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, who used power tools last weekend to cut their way out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, not far from the Canadian border.

Mitchell, who worked as the prison’s tailor supervisor, was arraigned in Plattsburgh on Friday for promoting dangerous prison contraband, a felony, and criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor. She was jailed at the Clinton County Jail with a $100,000 cash bail and has another court appearance Monday.

“This is one large piece of the puzzle in our quest to find these two escaped murderers,” State Police Maj. Charles Guess said at an evening news conference.

Mitchell allegedly provided the escapees with hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit to cut through the walls of the prison, CNN reported. It added that she told investigators she intended to pick them up near a manhole but failed to do so, authorities said.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Saturday: “They were going to meet down by the power plant, drive, I’m not going to say into the sunset, because it was after midnight and it was dark out, but they were going to drive … potentially to an area that was about seven hours away,” according to the broadcaster.

“Joyce Mitchell 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.”

If convicted of the felony, Mitchell could face a maximum of 7 years in prison, while the misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to a year in jail.

The news came as the massive search, which involves more than 800 law enforcement officers, shifted back to a heavily wooded area near the prison after residents reported seeing one inmate scale a rock wall in town.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Doug Stanglin and Micheal Winter

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