Dateline NBC Provides Clue That Joyce Mitchell’s Dannemora Story Does Not Add Up

Police stand over David Sweat after he was shot and captured near the Canadian border Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Constable, N.Y.. AP Photo

It’s like a Hollywood film. The story of the Dannemora prison escape has everything you’d expect: Sex, violence, chase scenes and — for authorities — a happy ending.

As the months go by, we’ll learn more about the big players in this real-life drama. For example, Dateline NBC steps up with accomplice Joyce Mitchell’s side of the story.

This was the first time that the public has heard directly from one of the three main characters in the drama (escaped convicts David Sweat, Richard Matt, or confessed accomplice Mitchell) without having the filter of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s political operation and the intertwined New York State bureaucracy imposed upon the information.

Dateline’s two hour special, which you can watch here, laid out the facts of the case in a compelling narrative and provided us with some important new information. It also revealed new information that, when placed together with what is already known about the case, shows what most viewers instinctively understand to be true:

Joyce Mitchell’s story does not add up. Here’s why:

The new information we learned last night about Joyce Mitchell:

She claims that she provided hacksaw blades to Matt and Sweat on only one occasion (new information in that it confirmed with specifity something that had been previously suggested). She purchased four hacksaw blades (new information), broke them in half so there were eight hacksaw half-blades (new information), embedded them in hamburger meat, froze the meat, thereby creating a unique new type of “Hamburger Helper,” smuggled the frozen meat into the prison, then placed it in a refrigerator in the prison where Correction Officer Gene Palmer then picked it up and took it to the cells of inmates Sweat and Matt.

Let’s put that together with some old information that was reported last night on Dateline:

Inmates Matt and Sweat used the hacksaw blades to cut through the quarter inch steel walls of their prison cells at Dannemora’s Clinton Correctional Facility so they could reach a catwalk behind their cells. They escaped by crawling on to the catwalk (on the top floor of the Honor Block building), climbing down the walls next to the catwalk to the basement, navigating a maze of tunnels in the basement, cutting through a 2 foot steel pipe using power tools they found in a toolbox stored on the catwalk that Sweat picked the lock of, crawling through the steel pipe, cutting a hole out of the steel pipe, climbing up into an underground tunnel, cutting through the padlocks beneath a manhole 130 yards outside the prison, removing the manhole and crawling to freedom.

Now let’s put that information together with some publicly available information that Dateline did not include in its report:

Correction Officer Gene Palmer passed a polygraph test administered during an interview conducted by New York State Police investigators in which he admitted that he delivered frozen hamburger meat to inmates Sweat and Matt on one specific occasion—May 30, 2015.

On June 20, Palmer signed a sworn statement at the end of that interview in which he said:

On May 29, 2015, Joyce Mitchell left a package for me to give to inmate Matt. It was left in the freezer located in Tailor Shop #1. The package was described as a green-colored, woven cloth bag, containing the following items: over one pound of frozen ground beef approximately 12 inches in length by 5 inches in width, by 2 inches in height. The beef was packaged with a white piece of styrofoam and plastic saran wrap. The plastic wrap did not have a price sticker on it. Along with the beef were two tubes of paint and one small, green cloth item.

In the afternoon of May 30, 2015, I went to the freezer located in Tailor Shop #1 and retrieved the green, cloth bag. I then approached Richard Matt, who was locked in his cell and passed the hamburger meat to him through the cell. The remaining items in the bag were also given to Matt.

You can read Gene Palmer’s complete sworn statement here.

Add in this information reported again by Dateline, and known since the escape:

Inmates Matt and Sweat escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on the evening of June 5, 2015.

Finally, let’s add some common sense:

Experts tell Breitbart News that it would take about 2 months of steady work for inmates working at night using half-blade hacksaws and drill bits to cut through a ¼ inch steel wall.

The additional work the inmates accomplished after they cut through the back walls of their prison cells would have required at least several weeks, perhaps a month or longer to accomplish.


In order to have completed all the work necessary to escape on the evening of June 5, Matt and Sweat began cutting through the back walls of their cells using hacksaw blades no later than two and a half months before—March 20, 2015 at the latest.

And yet Gene Palmer says he did not deliver the frozen hamburger meat containing those eight half hacksaw blades, which Joyce Mitchell says was the only time she smuggled hacksaw blades into Matt and Sweat, until May 30, 2015, less than a week before the escape.

That makes the claim by Joyce Mitchell to NBC’s Dateline that she only smuggled hacksaw blades to inmates Matt and Sweat on one occasion not plausible.


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