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tv   Dateline The Accomplice  MSNBC  October 4, 2015 2:00am-3:01am PDT

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two desperate killers. >> evil cunning and conniving. >> an improbable escape. >> everyone is in awe of what they did. >> a million dollar a day manhunt. >> potential danger to the community could not have been higher. >> and she was the key. she's the prison seam stress who she's she prison seamstress who shocked the country helping to piece together one of the most daring prison breaks of all time. >> i'm not the monster everyone thinks i'm on. >> tonight matt lauer's exclusive interview. why would a law abiding wife and mother help two killers escape. was she in love with them.
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>> we thought they were having sex back there. >> there's a lot of things that go on behind prison bars. >> what did she know why didn't she stop it? >> who could i tell? who could i trust. >> there's much more of this story you haven't heard. >> there was a gun pointed at me. >> shawshank redemption pops into your head. >> joyce mitchell with her first and only interview. >> what have you lost in all this? "the police accomplice." >> good evening everyone and welcome to dateline i'm matt lauer. every prison break is a big story, but this one had the whole country talking. two desperate convicts murders on the run after escaping with the help of a prison seamstress who may or may not have been in love with one of the killers. you'll hear it all in our exclusive interview with the woman at the center of the story. a woman who claims that in a way she was a prisoner too.
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>> the massive manhunt for the two escaped murders. >> an escaped manhunt that seems like a movie. >> terrorized the people in this area and this state. >> how they got out, who is involved. >> it was an inside job we suspected almost immediately. somebody knew something. >> no way possible that you could do it by yourself. >> reporter: somebody on the inside must have helped the two killers escape from the prison that was dubbed "shawshank" -- a feat no one had accomplished in living memory. >> unbelievable. perfect execution and -- wow. >> reporter: and then the world was shocked to find out that somebody, the inside man of the sophisticated houdini operation was a middle aged woman, a wife, and mother with no criminal background. >> for her to cross the line -- it's absurd. >> reporter: her name? joyce mitchell. >> i knew that they would blame me for all of it. >> reporter: until now, 51-year-old joyce mitchell has been the enigma at the heart of the story that drew headlines
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all around the world. >> it started out as a flirtation. >> reporter: the unlikely accomplice of two cold-blooded murderers whose escape launched a thousand-strong manhunt and plunged terrified communities into a three-week lockdown. >> these are extraordinarily dangerous men. >> yes. >> reporter: who is she and why did she do it? >> you told lot of lies. >> i did. >> reporter: tonight, the inside story of the prison break. we'll reveal never-before-heard details about how they pulled it off. we'll take you inside the manhunt and the deadly takedown. and in her first and only interview, you'll hear from the figure who became the linchpin of the conspiracy. >> i'm not the monster that everybody thinks i am. i'm really not. >> reporter: from within the rural serenity of upstate new york, where vacationers come to
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camp, fish and hike, it rises unexpectedly like a titanic grey fortress. with its high walls, armed sentries and grim watchtowers, clinton correctional facility radiates austerity. maximum security. >> it was like a dungeon. >> reporter: for most of its 3,000 prisoners, like erik jensen, entering clinton correctional facility was like entering hell. >> when you first go in there through the gates, you come through in the bus. and the gate shuts behind you. and you just look up and you could see, like, the walls surrounding you. and you feel -- you feel helpless in there. >> reporter: for officers like jeffery dumas, working at clinton correctional was practically a fight. >> typically every day we had something to handle. whether it was just a fistfight, whether it was drugs bean found, whether it was a stabbing, a
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slashing, gang violence. something like that typically always happened every day. >> reporter: in 2008, it was into this forbidding world that joyce mitchell, a seamstress, entered to work in the prison tailor shop. and that's where we begin her story. we met her recently at clinton county jail where she was awaiting sentencing for her role in the prison break. she was shackled, handcuffed, and at times seemed nervous and emotional as she revealed how she was drawn into an brazen plot by two cunning and desperate murderers. >> first of all, there's obviously an irony here in that you were someone who worked in a prison. >> yes. >> and now you're being held behind bars. what's it been like so far? >> it's -- it's nerve-wracking, because it's not someplace that i would have ever expected to be. >> reporter: let's go to the beginning, then, mrs. mitchell. exactly what was your role in this prison? >> i supervised one of the tailor shops. when the inmates came in, we taught them how to sew.
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and we made the clothing for the inmates. >> reporter: as part of her training as a civilian worker, joyce had been warned of the dangers of getting too close to the inmates. she had been shown instructional videos like this one called "con games inmates play." >> hey. you want me to take this over there while i'm at it? >> no, that's confidential. you can't touch that. >> ah, i'm just gonna be real quick, you know. >> reporter: were there rules set out by the prison? things you were allowed to do and things you weren't allowed to do in terms of forging a relationship with the prisoners? >> you were supposed to -- you know, be their supervisor and -- but, i mean, me being a mother, i tend to, you know, respect people more than probably what some people think i should. especially when you're working in -- in a prison. >> reporter: and according to joyce, the atmosphere in the tailor shop was casual. guards routinely allowed
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chit-chat between civilians and inmates. >> reporter: nobody comes up and says, "time's up"? >> you can talk, you know, five minutes, you can talk ten minutes, it really doesn't matter. >> reporter: so the conversations between you and some of the inmates went beyond teaching them how to make clothes. >> yes. >> reporter: you talked to them about their lives. >> yes. >> reporter: and their families. >> yes. >> reporter: and the things they were interested in or not interested in? >> yes. i guess i was more relaxed around them, knowing a little bit about them. >> she was nice. she wasn't strict, like a lot of the other civilian employees in there. >> reporter: erik jensen served nine months at clinton correctional in 2011 and 2012 for violating parole after he was convicted of theft. he was one of the inmates joyce supervised in that tailor shop. >> she would actually come over and help you with whatever you needed help with. and she enjoyed being there. >> reporter: jensen wasn't the only inmate in the tailor shop
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to notice joyce's good nature. two others -- prison buddies both convicted of murder -- saw it too. but they saw it as a weakness to exploit. one was david sweat. >> dave's crime was probably at the top of the hierarchy inside the prison system for most respectable crimes. he killed a law enforcement officer. it's a sick and twisted mentality in there. >> reporter: the other was richard matt. >> the wd on rick was that he, you know, he liked to boil hot water with baby oil in it and throw it on people's faces. that's what the word about rick was in clinton. >> reporter: sweat and matt were lifers with time on their hands. and it was in that tailor shop that they would hatch the prison-break plot that would terrify upstate new york, and transfix the nation. they would begin by working on joyce, trying to turn her, by turning on the charm. >> i do think that she enjoyed the male attention. i think that she enjoyed coming to work and having, you know, people compliment her.
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>> reporter: and soon joyce mitchell would find herself falling deeper and deeper into a plot from which she could find no escape. coming up, the prison had steel bars, barbed wire, and guards with guns. >> how did anyone break out of there? >> they -- >> evil cunning conniving. >> -- had her. >> i never meant for any of this to happen. >> how did they do it? why did she? here's a little healthy advice. take care of what makes you, you. right down to your skin. aveeno® daily moisturizing lotion with 5 vital nutrients for healthier looking skin in just one day. aveeno®. naturally beautiful results®
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>>mine hurt more.. >>mine stopped hurting faster! neosporin plus pain relief starts relieving pain faster and kills more types of infectious bacteria neosporin plus pain relief kills the germs. fights the pain. use with band-aid brand. i just had a horrible nightmare. my company's entire network went down,
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and i was home in bed, unaware. but that would never happen. comcast business monitors my company's network 24 hours a day and calls and e-mails me if something, like this scary storm, takes it offline. so i can rest easy. what. you don't have a desk bed? don't be left in the dark. get proactive alerts 24/7. comcast business. built for business. reporter: throughout her years in the prison tailor shop, joyce mitchell got to know a lot of the inmates. but the two she ended up getting closest to were among the most notorious in the prison. they were both killers, and they would make joyce their "inside woman" for a plan to escape. the first was david sweat.
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a wiry, thoughtful prisoner in his early 30s. >> reporter: what was your first impression of him? >> he was very quiet, very respectful. never give you a problem. when it came to doing what needed to be done. >> reporter: but that impression hardly fit with the rest of his background. >> david sweat is a cold, calculating sociopath who only cares about himself. >> reporter: as a 9-year-old growing up in new york, sweat brought a butcher's knife to school to fend off bullies. he moved on to stealing cars and was put into a foster home after his mother couldn't cope with him. he also did time for burglaries. then, one night in 2002, he and two accomplices rammed a pickup truck into a pennsylvania gun and fireworks store to steal weapons. sheriff's captain kate newcomb says her fellow officer deputy
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kevin tarsia was on patrol in the wee hours and came upon the trio in a secluded parking lot. >> he sees a suspicious vehicle. he pulls into the park to check it out, and he exits his patrol car. >> reporter: it turned out sweat and his crew were transferring stolen weapons into a car there. tarsia went to investigate. >> and as he walks around the front of the patrol car he begins to take gunfire from david sweat. >> reporter: sweat, clutching an assault rifle in one hand and a glock pistol in the other hit the officer with multiple shots. >> he falls down to the ground, and then david sweat gets into the car and proceeds to run kevin over and drag him with the with the car. >> reporter: one of sweat's accomplices finished off the officer with shots to the head.
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>> it was an assassination, absolutely, purely for the uniform that he wore. >> reporter: just after 7:00 on the following morning, kevin tarsia's fiance christi-ann ciccone heard a knock on her front door. >> i opened the door, and there were three police officers standing there. "and i said kevin got hurt and he's in the hospital, but everything's gonna be okay." and they said, "no." they said to me that kevin was murdered. >> reporter: the news was too hard to believe. she had been speaking to kevin just hours earlier. >> my whole life had been turned upside down. after kevin had been murdered, life had changed completely. my dreams and -- and everything was just torn away from me. >> reporter: david sweat was caught, eventually pleaded
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guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole at clinton. his best friend there was his cell neighbor perhaps the most dangerous inmate inside clinton correctional facility. his name was richard matt a hefty man in his late 40's. he also worked in the tailor shop, where joyce came to care about him too. >> reporter: when you started talking to richard matt, did you guys have anything in common? >> not really. no. >> reporter: so your conversations consisted of, what can i learn about your family? >> yeah, pretty much. he was a very outgoing person. >> reporter: unlike the reserved, cautious david sweat, joyce says without her even asking, richard matt bragged about the crimes he'd committed. they were even more savage than sweat's. >> the richard matt that i knew
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manipulator, evil, cunning, conniving, psychotic he beat loved ones. and he had no emotion towards anybody. >> reporter: like sweat, matt had been a troubled youth and grew up in foster homes near buffalo, new york. he had a history of violence graduating from juvenile facilities to prison and at just 19, he made his first prison break. lee bates was just 20 in 1997 when he got to know matt near buffalo occasionally driving him to local nightclubs. bates says one day matt known locally as rick asked for a ride to see his former boss, 76-year-old food wholesaler william rickerson. matt said rickerson owed him money. >> mr. rickerson came and let us into the house. rick had directed his voice at mr. rickerson. "i'm here to get my money. where's -- where's your money?"
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and punched mr. rickerson in the face. >> reporter: matt and bates tied rickerson up with duct tape and bundled him into the trunk of bates's car. for nearly 30 hours, they drove around, matt occasionally stopping to beat his boss some more even breaking his fingers. >> mr. rickerson had told mr. richard matt, i'll take you to the money. let me out of here. i'll take you to the money. >> reporter: bates says he protested when matt poked a knife sharpener like this one into rickerson's ear. >> and it was at that point that richard matt had wanted to kill me. and he told richard matt, "leave the kid out of this. it's between you and me." richard matt in a more -- more than a fit of rage, walked to mr. rickerson with the trunk open in my car and snapped his neck. i couldn't stop him. >> reporter: but that wasn't the end of it.
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matt used a hacksaw to cut up rickerson's body and then dumped the parts in the niagara river. >> we found two severed legs with no feet. two different sections of a torso. >> reporter: detective glenn gardner of north tonawanda pd got the case. lee bates was soon arrested. lee bates was the star witness that helped us eventually put the case together. and also make an arrest warrant out for richard matt. but while bates served more than sixteen years for his role in the murder, richard matt fled to mexico before he could be arrested. >> he's only there a short time and he walks up behind a man in a bar. the man's in the men's room. and he stabs him in the back to get his money. they give him 20 years. >> reporter: he served ten years before being extradited to new york to stand trial for the rickerson murder. matt was considered so dangerous and such a flight risk that
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during his trial a sniper was positioned near the courthouse. he was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. at clinton, even inmates like erik jensen were wary of matt. >> rick was known in there as somebody that you would -- you would wanna watch your back. you know, you don't wanna do him dirty and then think that he's not gonna do anything about it. >> reporter: the one man matt seemed to trust was the cop-killer david sweat. he and sweat were getting close to joyce. but while joyce believed it was a friendship, to the inmates it was an opportunity to crack open the door and try to escape. coming up, rumors of romance and more behind prison bars. >> we all thought they were having sex back there. >> when "dateline" continues. . neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair has the fastest retinol formula... to work on fine lines
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>> reporter: joyce mitchell had taken a few knocks in life. born into a modest family in upstate, new york, she dropped out of high school, worked at a local slipper factory, married her high school sweetheart and soon divorced after her son, toby was born. by then she had caught the eye of a local man, lyle mitchell, who described the moment he saw joyce take pity on a lonely child who wanted money for a toy.
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>> she's very, very, kindhearted. and she took the money out of her pocket and gave it to the kid. the lady has a heart of gold. >> reporter: joyce and lyle married in 2001, and they both ended up as civilian workers at small town dannemora's biggest employer, clinton correctional facility. >> we work together, we -- we never leave the house unless we're together with one another. >> reporter: joyce was with lyle nearly all the time, so life settled into a predictable pattern, hum drum perhaps. and perhaps joyce became restless. >> joyce supervised some 30 men crammed into her tailor shop, which was not unlike any small industrial workshop. but as she showed them how to make prison clothes, says former inmate erik jensen, joyce would ignore personal boundaries. >> she was hands-on. she would get right in your personal space. she wouldn't even tell you, like, "excuse me" or anything like that. she would just like, brush right past you. and that was one of the key things that i did pick up on her.
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she was overly friendly. >> reporter: joyce was particularly friendly with the cop-killer david sweat. >> good worker? >> very good worker. >> reporter: sweat had been promoted to instructor teaching inmates how to sew. which landed him the top prison wage, 40 cents an hour. the position also put him in a close professional relationship with joyce. then she allowed their relationship to become personal. she says that was natural. >> when you're working with your instructor, it's like your right-hand man, so -- i mean, we were talking every day about work. >> reporter: there was a friendship that had develop snd. >> there was a friendship. >> reporter: was there flirtation as part of that friendship? >> there was. >> reporter: jensen says the other inmates noticed that joyce and sweat spent a lot of time together, alone, in a room where the fabric was stored. >> they would, you know, they would -- of course they would be
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talking all day back and forth, you know. they'd laugh. they'd joke. we -- we thought it was more than them just working together. they acted like they were friends from before dave got incarcerated. like, they knew each other for a long time. they were very familiar with each other. >> reporter: so familiar, that rumors started flying. >> and we, we all thought that they were, you know, having sex back there. >> reporter: but it wasn't until september 2014, years after joyce and sweat first met, that prison authorities got wind of the gossip. >> they were concerned that there was some statements that inmate sweat and i either had in the past or were having at that time a relationship. which we were not. because they were saying a sexual relationship. we were not. >> reporter: so there was no sexual contact between you and david sweat. >> no. there was never any sexual contact between us whatsoever. >> reporter: but at the time there was suspicion that people brought to the attention of
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prison officials that there might be a sexual relationship between you and inmate sweat, were you warned? did someone come to you and say, "joyce, look, you've maybe crossed a line. you gotta get back on the other side of the line"? >> actually, nobody ever really said too much. >> reporter: were you worried you were going to lose your job at that point? >> no. because there wasn't anything between us. >> i was very shocked to learn that she allegedly had sexual relations with an inmate. >> reporter: jeffrey dumas, a former clinton sergeant with 22 years of service, knows the prison inside and out; and knew inmate sweat, and joyce mitchell, well. >> i knew, "okay, this is not true at that level." there is no way in that facility with the officer in the shop and the way it's constructed that they could have done something like that. >> reporter: still, joyce says she knew salacious innuendo was in the air and she had to try to nip it in the bud. >> i was the one that -- when
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they made the assumption, i went to the superiors, i guess if that's what you want to call them. and i made the complaint that they were saying stuff that was untrue. >> you thought your reputation was being sullied. >> yes. and they -- they came, they investigated it, and they found nothing. >> reporter: yet that episode didn't seem to deter joyce from becoming close with another murderer -- sweat's buddy, richard matt. how long did it take, mrs. mitchell, for you to consider him to be a friend as opposed to just another inmate? >> it took a little while, but he was in different shops with me, too. you know, he always had said, you know, "you don't ever have to worry. if something happens, no one will ever hurt you." you know, "we'll make sure that you're -- you're safe." >> reporter: what do you think he meant by that? explain that for me, within the context of life in a prison.
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>> you've heard stories where inmates will take civilians hostage or whatever. he always would say i never had anything to worry about. he would make sure that i was safe. >> reporter: did you take that to mean that he personally would or that he also had connections within the prison where he could protect you in other areas as well? >> i took it, at first, personally. >> reporter: that he would protect you? > yeah, he would protect me personally. >> reporter: did an alarm go off in your body at that moment? was there some internal alert that said, "joyce, this is a slippery slope"? >> yes. there was. >> and did anybody ever stop you -- as you were having some of these conversations with the inmates and say, you know, "joyce, back off a little bit. get back behind the desk. treat them like inmates. stop being such a nice person. stop being friends with them." >> they never actually told me to stop, but they did say, you
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know, "you're - - you're too friendly." you know, "you're -- you're too nice." >> and when they would say that to you, would you stop? would you change? >> i would a little bit and then the inmates were wondering, you know, what happened. and at the time that everything happened, i was going through a time where i -- i didn't feel like my husband loved me anymore. and i guess it was just me. i was going through depression. and i guess they saw my weakness. and that's how it all started. >> reporter: so you were looking for something. you were looking for attention. >> yes. >> reporter: their attention made you feel good. >> yes, their attention made me feel good. >> reporter: and it didn't seem to matter that her husband lyle worked close by, also as a supervisor in one of the prison's other tailor shops.
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>> so, you would see him during the day? >> yes. >> and he knew david sweat and richard matt as well? >> yes. >> in some odd way, you were getting from these prisoners, in terms of a relationship, what you didn't feel you were getting from your husband at home? >> yes. >> reporter: and that spelled trouble. david sweat and richard matt now had their hooks into joyce, and were gently reeling her in. they had a dream of escaping the prison, and they were working on a plan to make it happen. all they needed was an accomplice on the inside, and joyce was it. it was time to put her to work. coming up, joyce starts smuggling in treats. >> i would bring cookies, brownies. >> and digging herself in ever deeper. >> did you ever tell your husband that you were doing any of this? >> he didn't know a lot of what i was doing, no. many wrinkle creams come with high hopes,
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now back to our msnbc special. >> reporter: for lifers david sweat and richard matt, the clinton correctional facility was not only home, it had become a comfortable one. part of the reason is that they lived close to each other in the prison's cosiest neighborhood the honor block. >> the liberties that they were given was definitely a detriment to the security. >> reporter: many prisons have honor blocks. at clinton, inmates like sweat and matt had more rec time. there were fewer guard checks and a lot of noise says jeffrey dumas. >> there's tvs going, movies, sports. cards, dominoes. you know, they're either arguing or they're laughing. matt and sweat could have laid in their cell, sawed away at their wall, and nobody would have ever heard a thing.
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>> reporter: and that's exactly what sweat and matt began planning to do. to break through their cell walls to freedom. but first, they'd need some tools, and that meant getting illicit items into clinton. that was no big deal, says erik jensen. >> every day this happens. every day. whether it be a television, a radio, a walkman a bag of food clothing, everything is moving back and forth in there. it's like a small city. >> reporter: all they needed was someone who moved outside the prison to bring things inside. and that's where their friend joyce mitchell would come in. the trigger to involve joyce directly in their plot began, oddly enough, when sweat was abruptly removed from the tailor shop in september 2014. >> he was actually taken out of the shop because he had made a comment to my supervisor about
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another civilian. and my supervisor wrote him up for that. >> reporter: that meant sweat was reassigned, and he lost the prison wage that bought him favors and relative comfort on the inside. >> when mr. sweat was removed from the shop, i guess i felt bad because even though he's an inmate just like you or i, you know, if we lost our jobs, we'd want someone to help us. >> reporter: as joyce took pity on sweat, jeffrey dumas says that was the perfect moment for richard matt to step in. >> then inmate matt sees his opportunity to be the go-between between her and sweat. because matt and sweat lived in the same block. so whatever type of friendship that she had with sweat, matt took the opportunity to prey on her.
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>> reporter: matt decided to test her by tugging on her heartstrings. >> mr. matt would ask me to bring stuff in for mr. sweat so that he would have food or something. >> reporter: astonishingly, joyce responded and agreed. she says she found herself at home baking tasty treats and brought them to the prison for sweat. >> reporter: does that break prison rules? >> it actually does. >> reporter: what did you bring him? >> cookies, brownies. you know, stuff like that. >> pretending that you were bringing them in for yourself? >> yes. >> did you ever tell your husband that you were doing any of this? >> he didn't know a lot of what i was doing. no. >> why? you're smiling about that. why? >> no, i'm not really smiling. i'm just -- i didn't want him to be in trouble. and if i got caught, okay, then
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i'm the one in trouble. but i didn't want my husband to be in trouble also. >> but he never saw you leafing in the morning with a bunch of brownies or cookies and said, why are you taking those to work? >> no, because i would make his lunch just like i would make my own. >> reporter: and she simply took the cookies and brownies with her lunch to the tailor shop. how often did you do that, joyce? >> i did it a lot. >> were you ever nervous? were you afraid you'd get caught doing it? >> i actually was, because they're supposed to check our bags every morning when we come in. and they're supposed to check 'em when you go out. but they never did. >> and then how would you get them to mr. sweat? >> mr. matt would take them. >> reporter: she says along with the cookies she passed racy notes and photos to sweat using matt as a go-between. so matt upped the ante. he next asked for a pair of sparring gloves. joyce delivered again and also slipped him some treats of his
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own. >> i did get him some salts, like, season salts and stuff like that, and he would trade it with the other inmates for different foods to give to mr. sweat. >> kind of prison currency? >> yeah. >> reporter: and because she could apparently get through prison security unchecked the prison door became a revolving door. in addition to the affection she received joyce traded the baked treats for, of all things, artwork. it's widely known that richard matt was a talented artist. >> yes. >> which sounds strange for a guy with his criminal record. >> yes. >> reporter: matt painted portraits of celebrities marilyn monroe, julia roberts, bill and hillary clinton, president obama and others. when you were doing favors for him, was he repaying you with artwork? >> i did get two paintings from him. one was of my son and one was of our dogs.
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>> reporter: but to get richard matt's artwork out of prison, joyce needed help. she says she relied on a 27-year veteran of the prison service officer gene palmer a so-called "snitch officer" who had extensive dealings with matt and sweat. >> inmate matt and inmate sweat were both snitches, and they would tell officer palmer who's doing what. >> you tell him who the gang leaders are, who the gang members are, who has you know, the weapons. >> reporter: and in exchange for that information, palmer did favors like getting matt's artwork out of the prison. so, when those two paintings ended up in your home, did lyle see them, and did he say, how did these end up in your possession? what kind of relationship do you have with richard matt? >> he didn't really question it. he didn't know that they were even coming in until after the fact. >> he didn't send up a red flag and say, wait a minute. if you're getting paintings from
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him, this could be trouble for you and for us? >> he did afterwards tell me, you know, "you shouldn't be getting them. but i'm a redhead, and i tend to be stubborn at some things. >> these things that go on inside the walls of a prison, a maximum-security prison shock a lot of people. and i think a lot of people ask the question, didn't somebody in an official capacity have to know this stuff was going on? do you think people within the prison turned a blind eye to things like this? >> i can't speculate on what they were doing, what they were thinking. anything's possible, i guess. >> reporter: anything was possible, it seemed. if joyce could get cookies and sparring gloves into the prison and paintings out no questions asked, what couldn't she bring? in early 2015, richard matt decided to find out. he asked joyce to bring him
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something much more serious than cookies and brownies. and so at this point, you have to realize you're getting yourself in a really bad situation. >> yes. coming up, ham burger helper. >> nobody checked your bag? nobody. in it you had hacksaw blades? >> yes. >> and more rumors about sex. but was it what it seemed? >> there was one point where he had -- i'm sorry. >> when "dateline" continues. ref starts relieving pain faster and kills more types of infectious bacteria neosporin plus pain relief kills the germs. fights the pain. use with band-aid brand.
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>> reporter: joyce mitchell was getting in deep. for months she had been doing illicit favors for her friend,
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cop-killer david sweat with richard matt as the go-between. but now, with sweat no longer in the tailor shop, matt moved in. >> he looked at me one day and said, "you know, joyce, i do love you." and i said, "i love my husband." and i walked away. >> speculation has ran rampant, joyce, that there was something more here. that while mr. matt told you he loved you, that by this point, you loved him as well. >> no. it started out as a flirtation thing. but that's all it ever was. there was never any love between myself and mr. matt. >> at some point there was sexual contact between you and richard matt. and when i interviewed your husband lyle, he said you swore to him that there was not. and that wasn't true, was it? >> there was never any actual sexual intercourse.
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mr. matt had grabbed me a couple times and kissed me. and then there was one point where he had -- i'm sorry. he wanted me to -- he wanted me to perform oral sex on him. and i said no. and when i said no, he grabbed my head and pushed me down. >> reporter: she says what happened next was very brief and as soon as she could, she jumped up and ran away.
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>> when you told your husband there was no sexual contact, you were talking about intercourse and you were talking about consensual sexual contact. >> yes. >> so just to be clear, at no point in this relationship with richard matt was there any, in your opinion, consensual sexual contact between the two of you? >> there was never any consensual. >> when we hear of things that were going on in this tailor shop and even the forced sexual contact between you and mr. matt, my question is, did anybody see this? this is a prison. aren't there cameras? doesn't anybody know this type of thing is going on? >> no. they don't. >> reporter: joyce says matt began forcing himself on her in other ways too. while she'd been taking baked goods to sweat in prison and sparring gloves to matt.
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in early 2015, the wish list suddenly changed. >> they wanted a star-shaped bit. >> drill bit? >> yeah. mr. matt asked me for it. but it was for mr. sweat. >> okay, but when richard matt comes to you and says, joyce, i need a star shaped drill bit, that's a lot different than cookies and brownies. >> yeah. >> and what did you think? >> at first, i'm like, "i can't get you that." but then he's like, "i need it. sweat needs it." >> for what? >> at first, they didn't tell me. >> what it sounds like here is that once you made the mistake of crossing a line, mr. matt used your transgressions as a way to get you in deeper and deeper and deeper. >> yes. >> reporter: and when joyce didn't consent, she says, the demands were backed up by threats. was he threatening you? was he saying, "get me the next thing.
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and if you don't get me the next thing, i'll tell people that you got me the first few things and you'll lose your job?" >> no. no, it was always just -- he was gonna hurt lyle. it was never he was gonna tell anybody anything. >> reporter: she says she feared matt knew enough about her and her family to make good on his threat to hurt her husband. >> i was just so scared. matt -- mr. matt has a lot of power. a lot of power. he could get whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. >> reporter: you even felt outside of prison he could have caused harm to lyle and your family outside the walls of that prison? >> yes. >> reporter: in the face of the threats to her husband, joyce says, fear took over. so she continued to bring matt what he wanted, even when he asked for hacksaw blades. but smuggling those into a maximum security prison was a far different proposition than sneaking in baked goods.
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so after she bought the blades at walmart, joyce improvised and hid them in hamburger meat. she put the meat in her bag and, as usual, clocked in at the prison. so you walked right in the prison, nobody checked your bag. >> nobody checked. >> in it you had hacksaw blades. >> yes. >> reporter: once in the prison, she put the meat in a freezer. >> that's when the officer come and took it. >> reporter: and that officer was? >> mr. palmer. >> gene palmer. >> yes. >> reporter: the same gene palmer who joyce said helped her smuggle two paintings out of the prison. >> so obviously, some arrangement had been made between richard matt and gene palmer. and some arrangement, obviously, was made between you and mr. matt. you're getting the hacksaw blade, you're putting it in the frozen beef. >> yes. >> you're in deep trouble at
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this point. >> yes. i am in deep, deep -- >> reporter: and so is mr. palmer. >> well, i don't know if mr. palmer actually knew if they were in there or not. all i know is mr. matt came in and said, "palmer's gonna come and get the hamburger." but whether mr. palmer actually knew, i have no idea. >> reporter: joyce, who says she was being threatened by richard matt, and lived under a cloud of intense fear didn't breathe a word of what was happening to anyone. >> i've never been in prison, but i will tell you, if i were you, i think i would have said, i'm going to go home. i'm gonna get my husband. i'm gonna get him in a car, and we're gonna go to the police. and i'm gonna tell the police with my husband next to me, so i know nobody can harm him, exactly what's going on here. >> i should have done that, but i was too scared. because mr. matt even asked where my mother lived, where my son lived. he could have beat me, he could have done whatever he wanted to me. but i wasn't going to let him
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hurt my husband or my family. >> reporter: whatever the truth, joyce continued to help the two killers. if she wasn't already in enough hot water, she was about to go all in. sweat and matt were going to tell her exactly what they were doing, making her the third conspirator in a rapidly evolving plan. coming up, joyce is now the key to helping two killers escape. leaving her, she says, no escape. >> you know why they're using these things. >> yes. >> what they're using them for. >> yes. >> and you didn't go to anyone. >> who could i tell? who could i trust? 0
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we're back with more of our exclusive interview with joyce mitchell, the woman who helped two convicted killers escape in one of the boldest prison breaks of all time. why? why would a law abiding wife and mother do something like that? especially after she says she learned what they had in mind for her husband. >> reporter: in the spring of 2015, convicted killers david sweat and richard matt were ready to set their escape plan in motion. and thanks to joyce mitchell, they now had the tools to make it happen -- tools she continued to sneak into prison for them.

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