New York prison worker Joyce Mitchell told her husband she was in over her head as part of a plot to free two killers who remain on the run, he told NBC News in an exclusive interview.
Speaking to TODAY's Matt Lauer, Lyle Mitchell revealed the moment he said his wife admitted she gave fugitives Richard Matt and David Sweat tools to saw through their cells. However, Joyce Mitchell denied she had a sexual relationship with either of the them.
He said Matt even gave her pills that would knock him out so that she could flee with the pair. Authorities allege she later backed out of the plot when she had a change of heart.
“She said: ‘I love my husband, I am not hurtin' him’,” Lyle Mitchell recounted on Monday. “She said, "Then I knew I was over my head.”
He added: "When it came down to her hurtin' me, that's when she said something was wrong. She said she was in too deep, she didn't know how to get out of it."
Joyce Mitchell has been charged with bringing the tools into Clinton Correctional Facility, where she worked alongside Sweat and Matt in the tailor shop.
An intense manhunt was launched after the pair managed to escape through a tunnel on June 6.
Lyle Mitchell said he knew nothing about the alleged plot. He recalled how his wife of 14 years was repeatedly interviewed by police — raising his suspicions — until she finally told him of her initial alleged role.
"Do I still love her? Yes. Am I mad? Yes."
At the police station, “an investigator comes out and says, ‘Mr Mitchell, your wife is more involved than what she's lettin' on’,” Lyle Mitchell said. “I asked her what was going on. She said, ‘I just — I did some things … and I got over my head.’ I didn't know what to say. I was just … disbelief, shock.”
According to her husband, Joyce Mitchell alleged that Matt had tried to kiss her "a couple times" but she insisted things never went further.
Lyle said he believed his wife’s assurances that she had shown “a little affection” for Matt but that nothing sexual had taken place with either of the murderers.
“She swore on her son's life that definitely, ‘Never have I ever had sex’ [with Matt or Sweat].”
The couple’s marriage had seemed “excellent” until the revelations, he added.
“We never fight," Lyle Mitchell said. "We're together, I'll bet you, 95 percent of the time. We work together, we never leave the house unless we're together."
Lyle Mitchell added that his wife has been fully co-operating with investigators.
“She’s told 'em every single thing that’s possible,” he said. “She said, ‘I'm tryin' to make this right. I know what I did was wrong. I need to make this right.'"
Lyle Mitchell also revealed that he had not yet decided whether to testify against his wife.
And when asked by Lauer if he was standing by her, Lyle Mitchell said: "As of right now, I don't know what to think. I do not know."
He added: "Do I still love her? Yes. Am I mad? Yes. How could she do this? How could she do this to our kids?"