Prison employee charged as manhunt intensifies

Mitchell is the woman who’s accused of providing “material assistance” to the two inmates to aide in their escape.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Clinton County prison employee was arrested and charged on Friday as search efforts continued in the manhunt for two escaped convicts.

Authorities continued their search of a heavily wooded area about three miles south of the Clinton Correctional Facility. They searched by air and ground.

More than 800 law enforcement officers from the local, state and federal levels are involved. But Richard Matt and David Sweat have not been found.

“We’re getting closer with every step that we take; both with our criminal investigators and our tactical and ground searchers,” Major Charles Guess of the New York State Police said in a press conference Friday. “Everything that we can eliminate – even if it’s just shrinking the size of our search area – brings us that much closer to their apprehension.”

State Police said Matt and Seat are likely still in the area. The pair managed to escape the maximum security prison a week ago. As the manhunt continues, authorities announced felony charges against 51-year-old Joyce Mitchell.

Mitchell is the woman who’s accused of providing “material assistance” to the two inmates to aide in their escape.

“Our interviews with Joyce Mitchell have been fruitful and productive,” Guess said. “We’ve decided to charge her tonight and move on with other aspects of the investigation.”

The Dickinson Center woman was charged with Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree, a felony, and Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree, a misdemeanor.

State Police wouldn’t say whether Mitchell was also supposed to help with the getaway car for the fugitives. Authorities confirmed she checked into the hospital on Saturday after apparently suffering a panic attack.

As for Matt and Sweat, police said they don’t know whether they’re still together or split after the escape. But they had a strongly worded message for the two men.

“We have a message for David Sweat and Richard Matt,” Guess said. “We’re coming for you, and we will not stop until you’re caught.”

Mitchell is expected to be arraigned in Plattsburgh City Court Friday night.

Copyright 2015 WTEN

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