Woman Suspected of Helping Two Men Escape Says She Was Unfaithful
She was a homewrecker before she was the alleged accomplice to a pair of jailbreakers.
Joyce Mitchell, who police suspect of supplying two killers with the power tools they used to break out of the Clinton Correctional Facility, was a serial cheater, her ex-husband told the Daily News on Wednesday.
"I loved her, she was my wife, and then all of a sudden she cheated," Tobey Premo said. "She screwed up everything. We had a son. We had a nice house and everything."
Asked if it was possible if the woman he knew as “Tillie” could have fallen, as police suspect, for convicted killer Richard Matt, Premo quickly agreed. "Well, of course," he said outside his home in Massena, N.Y. "If you look at the pattern. She's 51. I thought maybe her sex drive would be gone and she wouldn't do that."
Premo, who is now engaged to another woman, said he hasn't seen his ex since she left him for Lyle Mitchell. He said the three of them — and Mitchell’s ex-wife Norma — all worked at the now-defunct Tru-Stitch clothing factory in Bombay, N.Y. back in the 1990’s.
Mitchell slept with several other men before she hooked up with Lyle Mitchell, Premo said."She was with a cutter guy," he said.
"He actually stitched too. I found out because the other guy's girlfriend caught them and she came up to me."
Law enforcement officers question a woman who lives near the maximum-security prison in Dannemora, N.Y., as they search area houses for the escapees.
Premo said Mitchell's infidelity broke his heart because they were high school sweethearts who shared their first kiss when they were 16. "I kissed her on the bus and liked her ever since," he said. "That's why when she left me I was devastated, because it's like your first. She left me for another guy."
Premo, the father of Mitchell's son Tobey, said he hasn't seen her "in 13 years."
KEN MALDONADO FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWSFlags fly at the home of Joyce Mitchell in Dickinson Center, N.Y. Mitchell, an employee at Clinton Correctional Facility, was reportedly questioned by police in regards to her possible involvement in the prison break.“
Authorities check the back of trucks at a checkpoint near Dannemora, N.Y., on Wednesday as the search for the two prisoners continues.
Lyle and Tillie got together and apparently it was pretty wild,” a source close to the Premo family said. “They were meeting behind everyone's back. Tobey and Norma didn't have a clue.”
When Premo finally found out, he “had a confrontation with Lyle in the men's bathroom over the affair,” the source sad. “He was really angry."
Now investigators think the smooth-talking Matt turned the head of the 51-year-old industrial training supervisor who was his boss in the prison tailoring department.
“That inmate probably told her what she wanted to hear as a woman, and she fell for it,” the source said.
Gov. Cuomo confirmed Wednesday that investigators have been questioning a female civilian prison worker in connection with the daring escape, although he didn't identify Mitchell by name.
A cop checks the trunk of a car for signs of the fugitives.
Mitchell was supposed to rendezvous with Matt and the other escapee, David Sweat, on Saturday and be their getaway driver, CNN reported.
But Mitchell got cold feet and left Sweat and Matt to fend for themselves while she checked into a hospital suffering from anxiety, according to CNN.
Neither Mitchell was at their home Wednesday in Dickinson Center, N.Y., in front of which flew the Stars and Stripes, an Air Force flag, and a "Don't Tread on Me" flag that typically signifies membership in the Tea Party.
Her son Tobey, a member of the Vermont Air National Guard, has denied that his mother was in cahoots with the convicts, both of whom were serving life sentences.
Meanwhile, the search for Matt and Sweat dragged into a fifth day.
Cuomo warned that they may have crossed into Vermont and could be hiding in one of that state's remote camp grounds.
"If they are heading for Vermont, Vermont is engaged, Vermont is mobilized," Cuomo said.
"This is not a time to panic," added Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who was standing beside Cuomo outside the prison in Dannemora, N.Y. "This is the time to be sensible."
Shumlin said his state's police were mobilized after New York officials alerted them that the convicts could be headed their way. Matt and Sweat concluded that "a camp in Vermont might be better place to be than New York," Shumlin said.
Law enforcement agencies in other nearby states have also been alerted along with authorities in Canada, whose border is just 20 miles north of the forbidding prison.
Earlier, police resumed their searches of houses located near the prison in the hopes of picking up a fresh trail. "They'll be doing a 100% sweep from the prison right out, see how that goes," Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said.
Police were also seen pulling out of tiny Willsboro, N.Y., after a tip that Matt and Sweat might be there turned out to be a false lead.
They also searched for the prisoners by sweeping open fields.
Hundreds of heavily armed cops and corrections officers had descended on the town Tuesday and meticulously searched every home, garage and shed as well as the surrounding fields and forests.
Bernie Kerik, the ex-NYPD commissioner, former Rikers boss and federal prison inmate, warned Matt and Sweat are "not going to give up without a fight."
"These guys are very bad guys," said Kerik. "They know that the correction staff has the right to shoot them on sight... They're gonna kill anybody who gets in their way.
"Sweat, Kerik added, was serving a life sentence for killing a sheriff's deputy. "A cop killer will kill anybody," he said.
A false report led police officers to Willsoboro, a town 40 miles from Dannemora, where they stopped every car entering and leaving the town in the hopes of finding the escapees.
Matt, 48, is a stone-cold killer whose prison nickname was "Hacksaw" because that was what he used to dismember his last victim. Sweat, 34, murdered the deputy in 2002.
Their escape has drawn comparisons to "The Shawshank Redemption."
"Sometimes life imitates art, that's all," author Stephen King tweeted on Wednesday. But unlike his fictional hero Andy Dufresne, Matt and Sweat are "bad, bad boys."