The prison worker who is accused of playing an integral role in the prison escape of two inmates told authorities that she hid tools inside frozen ground beef that were intended for the escapees, according to a new report. Joyce Mitchell said she gave the frozen meat to alleged accomplice and fellow prison worker, Gene Palmer, who then allegedly handed the hacksaw blades to Richard Matt, CNN reported.
On Monday, Palmer was placed on paid administrative leave from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, one day after the correction officer was interviewed by police. Palmer -- who has not yet been charged with a crime -- and his lawyer have denied any intentional involvement and have only said they Palmer had no clue he was he had been given any form of contraband.
"I can 100 percent confirm that he did not know they were planning on breaking out of the prison," Palmer’s lawyer, Andrew Brockway, said, according to local NBC affiliate WPTZ.
Matt and fellow escapee David Sweat remained at large more than two weeks after staging a daring prison break that was reminiscent of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” in which a convicted murderer cuts through a cell wall with a small chisel and manages to reach freedom after weaving through a series of pipes and concrete.
The search for the two prisoners has expanded in the Dannemora area and multiple sightings of them have been reported. The most recent possible sighting of the two came Tuesday afternoon in Mountain View, New York, where helicopters provided an aerial view of the heavily wooded location, according to a tweet from Alex Apple, a reporter for Vermont news outlet WCAX.
Several helicopters now stationary over Mountain View area. First time they've stopped circling & focused on 1 spot pic.twitter.com/z1EOk9JM51
â€” Alex Apple (@WCAX_Apple) June 23, 2015
Reports of Matt and Sweat being in Vermont were fleeting and have thus far proven to be false, but investigators and search crews have focused on that portion of the Northeast and up to Canada, where officials had been monitoring the Canadian border for signs of the fugitives, according to the Toronto Sun.