New York Prison Escape: What Has Developed Since Matt and Sweat Broke Free?

by Elisha Fieldstadt /  / Updated 

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After nine days of searching, investigators are no closer to finding their men — but they have arrested a seamstress.

More than a week has passed since two convicted murderers escaped a New York prison, and they have yet to be tracked by the hundreds of authorities who have been searching, pulling together clues and warning nervous residents across state and country borders to stay vigilant.

While the search has not reached a conclusion, plenty has developed since Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 35, disappeared last Saturday.

Here's a refresher on the escape that sparked an ongoing massive manhunt and the scare of a lifetime for an upstate New York community.

Saturday, June 6:

At about 5:30 a.m., officials at Clinton Correctional Facility discover convicted killers, Matt and Sweat are missing from their cells. Their escape was the first from the maximum security portion of the Dannemora, New York, prison since it opened 150 years ago.

Officials believe Matt and Sweat escaped at some point very early Saturday. While guards check cells every couple of hours, according to the prison, Matt and Sweat had put sweatshirts in their respective beds to make it appear that they were still in their cells.

A manhunt is launched, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo skips the Belmont Stakes to travel upstate to get a tour of the escape route. During a news conference, he says that the escapees used power tools to cut holes in the backs of their cells, make their way through the innards of the prison and climb out a manhole about a block away.

"There's no doubt that it was an extraordinary act," Cuomo says.

Sunday, June 7:

At least 250 local, state and federal officials, including FBI agents and U.S. Marshalls set up checkpoints in the area surrounding the prison, which is less than 20 miles from the Canadian border.

The influx of law enforcement and knowledge that two convicted murderers could be anywhere leave residents of the usually-quiet upstate community on edge.

A $50,000 reward is offered to anyone who provides information leading to one of the escapees. The full reward for information leading to apprehension both escapees is double that. Tips begin pouring in.

Officials in Canada, and as far as Mexico, are notified of the escape. "We're leaving no stone unturned,” says New York State Police Maj. Charles Guess. “They could be literally anywhere.”

Monday, June 8:

Searchers continue to examine each and every lead, totaling 150 in the third day of the search.

Other crews conduct door-to-door checks and comb through the woods in the mountainous terrain near the prison. Bloodhounds and aerial assets have been involved since the beginning of the search, but the prisoners are nowhere to be found.

Cuomo says investigators have concluded that Matt and Sweat "definitely had help" with acquiring the equipment necessary for their brazen breakout.

But who would help two killers in their quest for freedom?

Tuesday, June 9:

New York state police reveal that they are questioning prison worker, Joyce Mitchell, in connection with the escape.

Police say Mitchell, 51, is an instructor in the tailor shop where Matt and Sweat work, and she checked herself into the hospital with “a case of the nerves” the previous Saturday — the day Matt and Sweat made their get-a-way.

Her son, Tobey, tells NBC News that he can't imagine either his mother or father, who also works at the prison, being involved in the escape plan.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials swarm the small town of Willsboro, about 40 miles south of the prison, after specific tip from the area is called in. The lead proves to be fruitless, and authorities refocus their attention on Dannemora.

Wednesday, June 10:

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin warns state residents to be on the lookout due to information that the inmates may have fled to the state next door in hopes that law enforcement there would be less bullish.

Checkpoints spread outside the immediate vicinity of the prison, and drivers in a miles-wide radius are stopped so that authorities can check their cars and trunks. Canadian officials also expand their search.

Police continue to question Mitchell.

Thursday, June 11:

Sources tell NBC News that information has surfaced that Mitchell and Matt had developed a relationship and the prison employee “thought it was love.”

The sources also said that Mitchell had planned to be the getaway driver for the two inmates on Saturday morning but got scared and checked into a hospital instead. Police keep questioning Mitchell and keep searching tirelessly for Matt and Sweat.

Friday, June 12:

Mitchell may have gotten cold feet about being the inmates' chauffeur to freedom, but she did plenty to help them escape, police say. According to court documents, she brought hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit into the prison weeks before the men disappeared.

Mitchell is arrested by state police Friday and charged with a felony count of promoting prison contraband and a misdemeanor count of criminal facilitation. She pleads not guilty and is held on $110,000 bail or $220,000 bond. She is suspended from her $57,697-a-year tailor position at Clinton Correctional Facility.

The hunt is once again expanded to involve more than 800 law enforcement officers, and authorities say they have received almost as many tips. Maj. Guess says each lead brings the killers closer to apprehension. "We have a message for David Sweat and Richard Matt: We're coming for you and we will not stop until you are caught," he says.

Saturday, June 13:

A break in rainy weather encourages law enforcement, and authorities say they hope Mitchell's failure to provide getaway wheels means the prisoners are still close by. Still, police say they remain open to the possibility that Matt and Sweat could be anywhere — either separated or together.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie tells NBC News that Mitchell said she wasn't privy to the complete escape plan from the beginning, but she was provided more details all the way up until the night before the escape. And then a grander plot was hatched.

"The three of them were going to move on together. That was the plan," Wylie says.

Sunday, June 14:

On the ninth day of the manhunt for Matt and Sweat, the search area stretched farther east of the prison.

The New York State Police say officers from various local, state and federal agencies had covered 13 square miles in the search and investigated more than 870 leads.

Sweat turns 35.

Monday, June 15:

Nearby Saranac Central School District schools are open on Monday, after classes were canceled on Thursday and Friday due to the search, the district said. But the students are not allowed to go outside during the school day, according to the district, and there are extra law enforcement officers at all schools, according to police.

Mitchell appears in court briefly Monday morning and waives a preliminary hearing. If convicted of the two counts against her, she could face up to eight years in prison, and police said Friday that she could face more charges.

"If an employee was facilitating or an accomplice to this escape, they will be fully prosecuted," Cuomo said Sunday.

Sources tell NBC News that, in addition to being charmed by Matt, Mitchell was investigated for a prior sexual incident with Sweat. At that time, there wasn't "sufficient information" to remove her from the prison or charge her, Wylie says.

No vehicles have been reported missing in the area, leaving authorities to believe the inmates are still close by, and hundreds conduct door-to-door searches once again Monday.

The men Mitchell allegedly helped escape were serving time for brutal crimes.

Sweat was sentenced to life without parole for fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy on the fourth of July in 2002. Matt was sentenced to 25 years to life for killing his former boss by snapping his neck after bouts of beating that lasted more than a day. Matt then cut off his victim's arms and legs with a hacksaw.

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