Joyce Mitchell's Husband Breaks His Silence With A 'TODAY' Show Interview That Finally Revealed His Side Of The Story
When your wife is accused of helping two convicted murderers escape from prison in a plot that could've ended in your death, it's safe to say it can create some, uh, tense moments in the relationship. On the TODAY show Tuesday morning, Joyce Mitchell's husband, Lyle, spoke out about the New York prison escapees, his wife's alleged involvement in their escape and how her husband of 14 years is dealing with the aftermath.
Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped, allegedly with the help of prison tailor shop employee Mitchell, in June. But the plot seemed to come as a surprise to people like her husband, Lyle, whom the convicts allegedly said they were prepared to kill if Mitchell refused to help them carry it out.
Lyle Mitchell has been largely silent about the ordeal, which has left him caught in the center of an almost cinematic escape plan. What did he know? What did his wife tell him after the fact? How did he react to the revelations? Lyle opened up about the details in an exclusive interview with TODAY.
He had no clue
Lyle told TODAY's Matt Lauer that he was floored when his wife admitted to him that she had given still-at-large escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat tools to escape Clinton Correctional Facility, where both she and Lyle work.
"One day it was 100 percent, everybody happy, the next day it's — what happened? It's a shock."
The couple were at the hospital the night of the escape, Mitchell was admitted for chest pains associated with a panic attack. Lyle describes turning their cell phones when they left the hospital the next morning, met with a flood of messages from their kids, families and police looking for them.
They went to the police, Lyle believing that they'd been called because they knew the inmates through work and they could help. At that point he had no clue how deeply his wife was involved.
Lauer: At that point, Lyle, you had no reason to ask your wife, "Do you know anything about this escape?"
Lyle: No. No. No.
What did she tell him?
Authorities say that Mitchell helped provide two hacksaws and a chisel to Matt and Sweat. Before she was arrested and charged with aiding in the escape, she admitted to her husband that was involved in the plot. "I asked her what was going on," Lyle told Lauer. "She said 'I just — I did some things … and I got over my head'. I didn't know what to say. I was just … disbelief, shock."
Lyle also said his wife told him that the escaped convicts had planned to kill him if she did not carry through with the plan, a fact that he seemed to swallow with an amazing sense of calm considering that they're still on the run. Lyle said that the convicts offered to give Mitchell some pills to knock her husband out while she helped them escape. That's when she started to balk.
"'I love my husband, I am not hurtin' him'," Lyle recounted. "She said, 'Then I knew I was over my head.'"
But Lyle says his wife stopped short of confirming other salacious details that have surfaced out of this bizarre story — namely that she had been having an affair with one or both of the inmates. "She swore on her son's life that definitely, 'Never have I ever had sex' [with Matt or Sweat]," he said on TODAY after noting that the most she'd done was showed "a little affection" for Matt.
How does he feel about her?
Ultimately, Lyle, who has known his wife for 21 years, seems rightfully conflicted about the whole ordeal. "Do I still love her? Yes. Am I mad? Yes," Lyle said.
He has not decided if he will testify against Mitchell when her case goes to trial. When Lauer asked if Lyle is going to stand by his wife, he couldn't give a definitive answer. "As of right now, I don't know what to think. I do not know," he said.
Images: Screenshot/TODAY (1), Getty Images (1)