The prison tailor charged with helping two murderers stage a dramatic escape says she was giving into fear when she helped the inmates escape from an upstate New York prison.
In an exclusive jailhouse interview with the TODAY Show, Joyce Mitchell admitted she flirted with Richard Matt and David Sweat, but said any sexual contact she had with Matt was against her will.
“It started out as a flirtation thing, but that’s all it ever was,” she said. “There was never any love between myself and Mr. Matt.”
Mitchell says that while she and Matt never had sex, there were times Matt forced himself on her.
“Mr. Matt had grabbed me a couple of times and kissed me. And then there was one point where 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,” she said.
Although Mitchell previously confessed to taking X-rated selfies for David Sweat, she says there was never any sexual contact between them.
In July, Mitchell pleaded guilty to providing inmates Richard Matt and Sweat with tools they used to cut through cell walls for their escape from the prison in Dannemora, New York.
Mitchell faces a prison sentence ranging from 2⅓ years to seven years.
“I deserve to be punished,” she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “But, you know, people need to know that I was only trying to save my family.”
She says Matt and Sweat had learned where her mother and her older son lived.
Mitchell says it all started when she began to feel as if her marriage to Lyle Mitchell was falling apart.
“I was going through a time where I didn’t feel like my husband loved me anymore,” she said. “I was going through a depression, and I guess they saw my weakness.”
The former prison tailor says the inmates’ started requesting things like cookies, but their requests eventually evolved into something bigger.
They started asking for things like drills, chisels, and hacksaw blades.
Mitchell told TODAY that she didn’t know the inmates were planning to use the items to break out of prison.
By the time she figured it out, she says she was in too deep.
She told police that she was supposed to meet the escapees and run away with them – after they killed her husband, Lyle.
Mitchell says she couldn’t go through with the plan and stood up the prisoners.
Despite their botched getaway plan, Sweat and Matt managed to elude authorities for about three weeks. They fled through the woods of upstate New York, breaking into a cabin and collecting supplies.
A massive manhunt ended in late June after law enforcement officers fatally shot Matt and recaptured Sweat.
During her interview with the TODAY show, Mitchell said that she felt horrible about what happened.
“I am so sorry for everything that everyone went through because of me. I never, never wanted this to ever happen. Never. I would take it all back, if I could. But I can’t,” she said. “But I’m not the monster that everybody thinks I am. I’m really not.”