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A former prison guard who helped two murderers escape from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York was sentenced Monday morning to up to seven years in prison.
Supreme Court Judge Kevin K. Ryan said Joyce Mitchell must serve at least three and a half years of her sentence before she is eligible for parole. Mitchell was also ordered to pay fines in excess of $6,000.
Prior to sentencing, Mitchell, 51, apologized for what she called "the worst mistake I have ever made."
"I never intended for any of this to happen," Mitchell said. "I'm not a bad person. I clearly made a horrible mistake."
Mitchell, of Dickinson Center, New York, pleaded guilty in July to promoting prison contraband and facilitating criminal activity. As part of a plea deal, the state agreed not to prosecute Mitchell on additional charges.
Authorities arrested Mitchell on June 12 for helping orchestrate the June 6 escape of Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. After an intense three-week manhunt, Matt was shot and killed on June 26. Two days later, Sweat was shot and captured near the Canadian border.
Matt was serving a 25 years-to-life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder and dismemberment of a Buffalo man in 1997. Sweat is serving a sentence of life without parole for the 2002 killing of a Broome County sheriff's deputy.
Mitchell, who worked in the prison tailor shop, admitted providing Matt and Sweet with tools, including a chisel and hacksaw blades, which the men used to tunnel through prison walls. Authorities said she had also agreed to be the escapees' getaway driver, but backed out at the last minute.
During Monday's hearing, Mitchell said she only helped the inmates because she feared they would hurt her family.
"I just don't find that explanation credible," Judge Ryan told her as he imposed the sentence.
The manhunt for the suspects cost the state of New York an estimated $23 million dollars in overtime costs. Roughly $120,000 was also spent repairing the prison walls that Matt and Sweat damaged during their escape. A restitution hearing regarding those expenses will be held at a later date, Judge Ryan said.
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Ohio authorities say they've arrested a man who committed "pure torture" on at least one victim and may be linked to the investigations of six women in the Chillicothe area who have been murdered or have gone missing.
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Update: 9/11 -- ABC 6 reports that Ernest Moore turned himself in on Thursday night, citing the Chillicothe Police Department.
A southern Ohio task force investigating the deaths and disappearances of several local women has issued a nationwide warrant for Ernest "Dollar Bill" Moore.
Moore, 36, has been declared a "parole violator at large" by Ross County Sheriff George W. Lavender. He's also been named a "person of interest in the drug trade and at risk women involved in human trafficking," the Missing Women's Task Force said in a Thursday evening press release.
The task force, made up of officials from the sheriff's office, Chillicothe Police Department, FBI and Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, was formed earlier this summer to search for answers in a string of unsolved deaths and disappearances.
In the past 16 months, six women have disappeared or turned up dead in the small city of Chillicothe. Three of the six have been found dead in or near different creeks and streams. One was found shot to death, and the remaining two are still missing.
During a June 23 press conference, Lavender said authorities have not yet ruled out the possibility that a serial killer could be responsible for some of the deaths and disappearances.
"When you start ruling things out, you overlook stuff, and we don't want to overlook anything," the sheriff said.
The two missing women have been identified as Charlotte Trego, 27, who was last seen alive on May 3, 2014, and Wanda Lemons, 37, who disappeared from Chillicothe on Nov. 3, 2014.
Tameka Lynch, 30, disappeared in Chillicothe on May 3, 2014, the same day Trego was last seen alive. Lynch was found dead three weeks later, in a creek roughly 20 miles downstream from where it passes through Chillicothe.
Shasta Himelrick, a 20-year-old expectant mother, was last seen by her family on Christmas Day 2014. Roughly a week later, searchers found her body in the Scioto River.
Timberly Claytor, 38, was found dead of gunshot wounds on May 29 in Massieville, a small town about five miles south of Chillicothe. A grand jury has indicted Jason McCrary, 36, on one count of murder in connection with Claytor's slaying. He has not been named a suspect in any of the other cases.
The latest victim to be found is 26-year-old Tiffany Sayre, who was last seen in Chillicothe in May. The following month, two people discovered Sayre's body near a culvert along Paint Creek, not far from where Lynch's body was found.
All six women are believed to have known each other, police said.
The Missing Women's Task Force did not specifically indicate why they want to talk to Moore. However, one of the women's friends told The Huffington Post that Moore is known to run in the same circles that the women did.
According to local media outlet ABC6 News, court records show Moore was released in February from jail, where he had been held on a drug trafficking offense. It remains unclear when he was initially incarcerated for that charge. Court records further indicate Moore has been in and out of jail several times in the past 10 years for drug-related charges, the news station reported.
Moore is described as an African-American male, with black hair and brown eyes. He is approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds.
Anyone with information regarding Moore's whereabouts is asked to contact the Missing Women's Task Force at 740-774-3463. Anonymous tips can be made through Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-TIPS.
Authorities in Texas have allegedly connected a vehicle used in the violent slaying of Kendra Hatcher to her boyfriend's former girlfriend.
According to newly released court documents obtained by CBS 11 News, the owner of the Jeep Cherokee that was allegedly used in the commission of Hatcher's murder told Dallas police he had loaned his vehicle to a woman, identified in court documents as Brenda Delgado, prior to Hatcher's slaying.
The man, who has not been identified, placed the call to police on Sept. 4, the day he recognized his vehicle in surveillance video footage authorities had released of the suspected getaway vehicle.
Delgado's connection to the case also allegedly extends to Hatcher's boyfriend.
According to the court documents, Delgado had dated and "ended a two-year relationship" with Hatcher's boyfriend earlier this year.
Delgado allegedly admitted borrowing the Jeep Cherokee, but told police she had lent it to 23-year-old Crystal Cortes, the court documents maintain.
Cortes, an unemployed dental assistant, voluntarily went to the Dallas Police Department on Friday, at which time she allegedly confessed to her role in Hatcher's slaying. Cortes also allegedly provided "information that other unidentified suspects may have been involved," police said.
Cortes allegedly told detectives that she was offered $500 to drive a male accomplice to the parking garage of Hatcher's upscale Dallas apartment building on Sept. 2. Cortes said she was told the man was going to rob Hatcher, police said.
A young man allegedly witnessed the shooting.
"My son, he was telling me that a black Jeep Cherokee drove by [and] a guy with a mask put a bullet in her and just drove off," the boy's father, who did not wish to be identified, told WFAA.com.
Cortes told investigators the gunman stole several items from Hatcher after he shot her, according to the arrest affidavit.
Hatcher died at the scene. Her body was found next to her white Toyota Camry. Investigators found a single .40-caliber shell casing on her passenger seat, police said.
Court documents allege Cortes made additional statements about Delgado. However, when contacted by The Huffington Post on Wednesday, Dallas police declined to comment on the validly of those statements.
According to The Dallas Morning News, police recently searched the apartment of a woman who had once dated Hatcher's boyfriend. During the search, authorities allegedly seized a laptop. The newspaper did not identify the woman.
Cortes has been charged with capital murder. She is being held in the Dallas County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond. Jail records do not list an attorney for her.
Police have yet to say whether Cortes knew Hatcher, who worked as a children's dentist. Authorities have also not named anyone else as a suspect or person of interest in the case.
The Dallas Police Department is asking anyone with information on the case to contact its homicide unit at (214) 283-4818.
Earlier on Huffpost:
Authorities in Dallas are trying to determine who is responsible for the slaying of Kendra Hatcher, a well-loved...