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Prison Worker Joyce Mitchell Planned to 'Move On' With Escaped Killers, DA Says

by Tom Winter, Monica Alba, Miguel Almaguer and Phil Helsel /  / Updated 

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The prison worker charged with aiding in the escape of two convicted killers from a maximum-security correctional facility planned to meet the pair at midnight on the night of the escape and then leave with the escapees — even giving them digging tools — the district attorney said.

"It's basically, to show up down at the power house at around midnight, and pick them up. As we all know now, she failed to show up," Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told NBC News Saturday. "Pick them up, leave the area."

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

Joyce Mitchell, 51, also brought convicted killers David Sweat and Richard Matt cutting blades and glasses with lights attached, presumably to be used in the tunnel system of the prison, before the June 6 escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, Wylie said.

Related: Family of Prison Worker Charged in Escape 'Love and Support' Her

Sweat and Matt are still on the run, and a manhunt for the two escaped killers in rural areas near the prison in Dannemora expanded during its ninth day on Sunday.

The prisoners used power tools to saw through the walls of their cells and climbed through an underground steam pipe, escaping through a manhole.

Mitchell was arrested Friday and charged with a felony count of promoting prison contraband. She has pleaded not guilty.

According to the criminal complaint, Mitchell brought hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit into the prison on May 1, which assisted in the brazen escape five weeks later.

Related: Escaped Prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat Have Grisly Past

She doesn't appear to have been in on the plan from the beginning, Wylie said. "The information that she provided us is that she was learning little pieces of that [plan] leading up to last Friday night, early morning hours of Saturday," he said.

Sources have told NBC News that Mitchell was charmed by Matt, to the point that "she thought it was love."

Mitchell apparently got cold feet in the hours before she was supposed to pick up the escaped inmates. She checked herself into a hospital the day the prisoners went missing with what police have described as "a case of nerves."

"At the last moment that Friday afternoon or Friday evening she bailed out," Wylie said. "Hopefully that means they [the escapees] are still out here in close proximity to the facility."

Officers have been going door to door and using aircraft and dogs to hunt for the escaped prisoners. More than 800 officers have been involved in the search, state police said.

Matt, 48, was sentenced to 25 years to life in 2008 for killing and dismembering a businessman whose torso was discovered in the Niagara River by a fisherman. He had also escaped from prison once before, in 1986.

Sweat pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole in the shooting death of Kevin Tarsia, a sheriff's deputy in Broome County, New York, on July 4, 2002.

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