The story of how a female prison employee in upstate New York helped two murderers escape is reminiscent of a Lansing Correctional Facility escape several years ago.
In New York, Joyce E. Mitchell, who was a supervisor in the prison tailor shop, is charged with providing Richard W. Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 35, with hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit.
The New York Daily News reported that investigators are looking into allegations that Mitchell, 51, had engaged in sex with Sweat and performed oral sex on Matt.
The two men, who escaped the night of June 6 or the morning of June 7, are still on the loose.
I say this without judgment or prejudice: Mitchell is a very homely woman. In addition, she was unhappy in her marriage. There is no doubt in my mind that Matt and Sweat won her over with sweet talk and flattery.
The Daily News quoted a law enforcement officer involved in the case as saying, “I think more than anything, they just played on her emotions.”
Not long after reading about Mitchell’s alleged involvement, I began thinking about the Lansing case, in which a female dog trainer named Toby Young helped a convicted murderer escape from Lansing Correctional Facility in a dog crate in 2006.
Several things about Young mirrored Mitchell.
Young was unattractive and unhappy in her marriage, and the convicted murderer she helped, John Manard, was younger than she and won her confidence with words of love.
The big difference in the two cases is that Mitchell did not accompany the escapees. The plan called for her to do so, but she got cold feet.
Toby Young, on the other hand, not only drove Manard out of the Lansing penitentiary in her cargo van, she went off with him on a 12-day escapade that ended when the two were apprehended in Tennessee, where they had set up a love nest in a rural cabin.
Among the items authorities found in the cabin were two guns, $25,000 in cash, two guitars, a laptop computer and porn DVD’s…Obviously, it was quite a party while it lasted.
Before running off with Manard, Young had withdrawn $42,000 from her retirement plan and purchased a getaway vehicle. Her husband had discovered two handguns missing from their home.
In a March 2006 letter to a Kansas City television station, Manard said he and Young “have a fairy-tale love the size of infinity.”
Although he has a little poetry in him, Manard would hardly qualify as a “great catch” in the eyes of most women. For one thing, he has a lot of tattoos, including one across his abdomen that captures his self-identity in a word: “Hooligan.”
Plus the fact he was a cold-blooded killer. He was serving a life sentence (and still is) for the 1996 murder of Donald England in Overland Park during a carjacking. Manard shot England while England was parked outside a hair salon waiting for his wife to finish an appointment.
In 2008, Kevin Helliker, a Kansas City, Kansas, native who is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter for The Wall Street Journal, wrote a lengthy story about Toby Young. Helliker related how Young’s life was falling apart everywhere except at her volunteer prison job, where where she taught prisoners to train stray dogs.
Only during visits behind bars did she find any relief. In a fortress packed with men, her appearance at age 47 drew more compliments than she’d received at 27, and not just from inmates. One guard, she says, always greeted her by saying, “Hey, beautiful.” Inmates worshipped her for being able to place a dog in their cells.
The price for Young’s 12-day fling with Manard was high: She was convicted of felonies in state and federal courts and served about two years in prison. She was released in May 2008.
Joyce Mitchell is probably going to do some serious prison time, too…And she didn’t even get a post-jailbreak sex party out of the deal.
Editor’s Note: Maybe you read my June 12 post about the Ozarks judge, Kenneth Hayden, who said he was busy through 2016 and couldn’t possibly reschedule the Susan Van Note murder trial before 2017. Well, a veritable miracle has occurred: Somehow, some way, he managed to find room in his busy schedule to start the trial on Aug. 17. That’s August 17, 2015, two months from now…Thanks, judge. You can go back to your boat-tampering and cattle-rustling cases in the fall.