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Female prison worker questioned in connection with Shawshank style escape

Joyce Mitchell
Joyce Mitchell

Two inmates are still on the run after they used power tools to escape from a US prison four days ago.

Now a female prison worker is being questioned as a possible accomplice.

Joyce Mitchell, who has worked at Clinton Correctional Facility, New York, since 2010, was interviewed by investigators as they try to determine how the two escapees obtained the power tools they needed cut through steel walls and pipes at the prison which is located 20 miles south of the Canadian Border in New York.

48-year-old Richard Matt was serving 25-years to life for kidnapping, killing and dismembering his former boss in 1997, while 34-year-old David Sweat was serving life without parole for the 2002 killing for a sheriff’s deputy.

David Sweat and Richard Matt

The murderers were allowed to wear civilian clothes instead of prison greens in their less restrictive wing of the jail dubbed the “Honor Block.”

Perks on the block included getting to work as assistants to prison contractors such as plumbers and electricians, the New York Daily News reports.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the escape over the weekend was a “sophisticated plan” and announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to men’s capture.

“These are killers. They are murderers,” he said.

“There’s never been a question about the crimes they committed. They are now on the loose, and our first order of business is apprehending them.”

Officials have given no details on how the men managed to cut their way out of the prison.

Authorities set up roadblocks and brought in bloodhounds and helicopters. Hundreds of law enforcement officers fanned out around the prison, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border, following up on dozens of tips.

The prison houses less than 3,000 inmates and is guarded by 1,400 officers.

Prison officials found the inmates’ beds stuffed with clothes on Saturday morning in an apparent attempt to fool guards making their rounds.

On a cut steam pipe, the prisoners left a taunting note containing a crude Asian caricature and the words “Have a nice day.”

Officials said the inmates cut through the steel wall at the back of their cell, crawled down a catwalk, broke through a brick wall, cut their way into and out of a steam pipe, and then sliced through the chain and lock on a manhole cover outside the prison.

To escape, the inmates had to cut into the steam pipe then shimmy “some distance,” Cuomo said, before cutting themselves out again. Their path brought to mind “The Shawshank Redemption,” the 1994 adaptation of a Stephen King story about an inmate’s carefully planned prison escape.

It was the first escape from the maximum-security portion of the prison, which was built in 1865.

The men may have had assistance outside the prison, perhaps meeting up with someone who helped them leave the area, investigators said.