'Escape at Dannemora': The real stories of Lyle Mitchell, Gene Palmer and Catherine Leahy Scott after the infamous 2015 prison break
A lot of talk has been buzzing around the new Showtime series, 'Escape at Dannemora', especially because of what a dark, skillfully portrayed prison drama it is from Ben Stiller. While the true incident of the infamous 2015 Clinton Correctional Facility escape has raised conversations on the real-life stories behind the main characters involved, those sitting on the sidelines are no less intriguing.
So far, we have reviewed how prison inmates Richard Matt (Benicio del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano) managed to successfully pull off their elaborate escape plan with the help of the prison tailor shop employee Joyce 'Tilly' Mitchell (Patricia Arquette). Now it's time we shed a little light on the people who, even though, did not actively participate in the plans, still very much made an impact on the whole incident
1. Lyle Mitchell
Played by Eric Lange, Lyle is the docile, demure, and seemingly good-natured husband of Tilly. His trust in his wife is kind of baffling, especially if one was to go by the way 'Escape at Dannemora' portrays him.
The whole basis of Tilly's involvement in Matt and Sweat's escape plans was her need for sexual gratification - for which the 50-something married mother would do pretty much anything, including supply tools to Matt, which the latter would eventually use to dig a tunnel out of the cells for his and Sweat's escape. Tilly was involved in a sexual relationship with both of them and was even supposed to provide them a ride after the two burrowed their way out of the facility.
But she never turned up, and by the looks of it, that's all Lyle Mitchell needs to believe in his wife. While the latest news on him is from 2017, it is about his faith in Tilly and how much he loves her and believes she was manipulated to do whatever she did.
In 2015, when Tilly was denied parole, he told The Daily Mail: "All I want is for my wife to be coming home. She has been inside for more than two years, but (Gene) Palmer (a guard at the facility who was involved in the plan too) only got six months -- and was out in four."
While Tilly was still serving her time in 2017 at the Bedford Hills Correctional Center, 300 miles away from her and Lyle's home, he said "Palmer knew everything that was going on, but it was easier for them to put all the blame on my wife, not him. What he did was ten times worse than what my wife did." At the time, Stiller's currently ongoing series on the incident was still under the works and speaking about that, Lyle shared with the outlet that he had refused to let them film in their home. "I just want for us to be left alone," he said.
2. Gene Palmer
The accusations hurled from Lyle about this certain Palmer requires some elaboration. Clearly, Tilly wasn't the only one who was articulately manipulated by Matt, as security guard Palmer (played by David Morse) wasn't exempted from that either.
After the extensive investigation on Matt and Sweat's infamous prison escape that ended with a $23 million manhunt with Matt being shot to death at sight, and Sweat being shot shortly after and taken into custody, Palmer's role in their plan was brought to light.
Gene Palmer, 3 felonies and 1 misdemeanor. Held with bail at $25,000 #prisonbreakny pic.twitter.com/0bxYRHWh1j— Keshia Clukey (@KeshiaClukey) June 25, 2015
As the show has already established, Matt somehow managed to convince the guard to unwittingly help the two inmates - both in for murder - by providing them with frozen hamburger meat, through which Tilly would smuggle the hacksaw blades in. He was eventually sentenced to six months in Clinton Correctional Facility itself, but he walked out after serving just four months, on account of good behavior.
Initially, Palmer had claimed he had no clue about the hacksaw blades getting smuggled in through the frozen meat, but authorities leading the investigation believed he should have had a fair idea it all was contraband.
As for his time served in prison, Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said: "He was very quiet. (Kept) very much to himself," as per NBC news. "I think after nearly 30 years' experience in the state correctional facility on one side of the bars, he learned that the best way to do his time is to be very quiet. Do what you're told to do and get out."
3. Catherine Leahy Scott
The New York Inspector General heading the investigation, and the one who said Palmer should've had an idea about the meat being contraband, has already appeared quite a few number of times in the series adaptation of the incident.
Her involvement is vital because it was she who pointed out what master manipulators both Matt and Sweat were. Played by Bonnie Hunt on the show, we have already seen her as a stern lady with conviction, and it only makes sense because in real life, she was the one who brought to light Tilly's involvement in the escape.
Her reports of the investigation proved to be of prime significance as it detailed how both Matt and Sweat's sexual relationships with Tilly played the biggest role in the hatching of the elaborate prison break plan - where it all started and how it all panned out.
She was the one who procured samples of the blades smuggled in through frozen meat, and also substantiated claims of what a skilled manipulative criminal masterminds Matt was in the entire incident, by putting forth images of his dummy body left behind in his cell bed alongside the mocking note of a smiley face saying "Have a nice day."
The reason she still continues to be so significant for the story is that had she not delved that deep into the investigation, the world would have never known just how cut-out for Hollywood this prison escape plan was. And for all we know, 'Escape at Dannemora' wouldn't even be a thing today!