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US woman says she aided prisoners’ escape ‘to save my family’

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New York: The woman who helped two convicted killers escape from a maximum security prison in New York said she only took part in the plot “to save my family.”

Joyce Mitchell, who for seven years worked as a seamstress at the Clinton County correctional facility, told NBC television in an interview broadcast today that one of the inmates told her he loved her, and that he wanted to kill her husband.

Mitchell, 51, said the two murderers, David Sweat and Richard Matt, also had learned where her mother and one of her three children lives, and that she was worried about their safety as well.

“I did wrong. I deserve to be punished but, you know, people need to know that I was only trying to save my family,” she said in a tearful interview — her first since the daring escape, which made international headlines.

Mitchell has been charged with helping the two men obtain tools used in their jailbreak.

She reached a plea deal and faces up to seven years in prison when she is sentenced on September 28, US news reports said.

The two escapees broke out of the upstate New York prison in June, and became the subjects of a nearly three-week-long manhunt.

Matt was shot dead by a federal agent during the manhunt, and Sweat was apprehended just a mile and a half (three kilometers) south of the Canadian border.

Mitchell admitted that her relationship with the two inmates “got a little too comfortable,” but said she had found pleasure in their company.

She said her flirtation with the two men, particularly with Matt, came at a time when she was feeling unhappy in her marriage.

“I was going through a time where I didn’t feel like my husband loved me anymore,” she told NBC.

“I was going through a depression, and I guess they saw my weakness and that’s how it all started,” she said. “Their attention made me feel good.”

The two inmates were held in New York’s most escape-proof facility because of the heinous nature of their crimes. Matt was convicted of killing his boss and chopping his body in pieces. Sweat was in prison for killing a sheriff’s deputy by shooting him 15 times.