Prison Employee Gene Palmer Arrested For Helping Convicted Killers Escape
The two men who escaped a New York prison earlier this month are still on the run, leaving behind a ton of questions, but the people who may have helped them break out could provide authorities with the answers. On Wednesday, New York State Police arrested and charged prison employee Gene Palmer for allegedly helping David Sweat, 35, and Richard Matt, 48, drill their way out of the Dannemora prison facility on June 6. Palmer, 57, was charged with one count of promoting prison contraband, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, and one count of official misconduct. Officials said Palmer pleaded not guilty and has been remanded to Clinton County Jail on $25,000 bail.
Palmer is the second person to be charged in the escape scheme. According to CNN, Palmer told investigators he supervised Matt and Sweat and saw the pair return the tools used in the escape before the end of his shift. Those tools, CNN reported, were recovered from Palmer's home during a search warrant.
Joyce Mitchell, 51, an instructor at the prison's tailor shop who was the first person to be arrested, allegedly admitted earlier Wednesday to putting blades and drill bits in hamburger meat. Palmer then allegedly brought the meat in the prisoners' cell area, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said. In a TV interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Palmer's attorney Andrew Brockway defended his client, saying the guard with 27 years of experience didn't know the meat had contraband and simply made a mistake.
Before he handed off the meat, he asked if there was anything wrong with it and she said no. ... The only mistake he made was trusting Joyce Mitchell.
Mitchell's husband Lyle Mitchell broke his silence Tuesday, telling Today he had no clue his wife may have been involved in the escape. Lyle also said his wife denied having a sexual relationship with either prisoner and that he still loved her, though he was unsure whether he could stand by her side if her case goes to trial.
Wednesday marked the 19th day of Matt and Sweat's stunning escape. Citing a law enforcement source, CNN reported DNA from the two men was found inside a upstate New York cabin near Owls Head, located about 20 miles west of the prison. The men may have stolen firearms and ammunition left behind by the cabin's owner.
Images: New York State Police; Getty Images (1)