SOURCE: Prison Employee Also Smuggled in 'Shawshank Redemption' DVD

By Scott Salad

Published June 29th, 2015

PLATTSBURG — In addition to hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver bit, Joyce Mitchell — the jailhouse seamstress accused of helping two convicted murderers escape a Northern New York prison in early June — also smuggled in a copy of The Shawshank Redemption, according to sources close to the investigation.

Its alleged that Mitchell passed a package — which investigators say contained a DVD of the movie stuffed inside 3.25 lbs. of hamburger meat — along to Gene Palmer, the veteran guard who also was charged with delivering contraband to the inmates' cell area, according to District Attorney Kyle Clum.

“It’s unclear at this point whether Mr. Palmer realized Mrs. Mitchell slipped the popular prison escape movie into the meat,” said Clum. “If he didn't, then obviously the next question needs to be, 'why were you giving raw meat to prisoners?'”

Though officials remain tight-lipped as to whether the movie had any bearing on the Clinton Correctional Facility escape, many believe it must have inspired the duo.

“I just watched it the other day,” said Malone resident Tuff Stulbender. “It's basically the Rocky of prison break movies. Even I wanted to escape from something after seeing it. And other than being married, I'm a free man.”

Released in 1994, the Oscar-nominated film starred Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne, an innocent man sent to Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife. With the help of his friend Red, played by Morgan Freeman, Andy embarks on a painstaking journey of redemption, symbolized by a climatic prison escape eerily similar to the one pulled off by real-life killers Richard Matt and David Sweat — minus the innocence and subsequent redemption.

Matt and Sweat — who were on the run from authorities for nearly three weeks — were eventually captured over the weekend after they were spotted working at a Denny's on Wolf Road in Colonie.

Sources said once the Shawshank DVD was found in Matt's cell, law enforcement began searching farmland in and around the Dannemora area where the prison is located just north of Plattsburgh.

“We're looking for a large oak tree in a hayfield surrounded by a stone wall,” said State Police spokesman, Godfried Hobnobber. “Something that looks like it's out of a Robert Frost poem.”

Although it has yet to be confirmed, many now believe investigators were looking for clues left under a volcanic rock that had “no earthly business” being in a New York State hayfield.

In addition, the DVD's discovery may have been the reason officials briefly considered shifting the search area away from the northern Adirondack's and onto a tiny fishing village on Mexico's Pacific coast named Zihuatanejo.


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