'Escape at Dannemora': What happens to Joyce 'Tilly' Mitchell after the panic attack? Where is she now?
Why Tilly did what she did has been discussed innumerable times, both by investigators carrying out the ensuing $23 million manhunt and also by the media
The 2015 prison escape from Clinton Correction Facility, New York, had everything that would be required for a sensational Hollywood story. It was an escape story like none other before, and was compared to the likes of Stephen King's novel, 'The Shawshank Redemption.'
And now, Ben Stiller's riveting dark prison drama, 'Escape at Dannemora' shows the same story of inmates Richard Matt (Benicio del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano) escaping with help from prison employee Joyce 'Tilly' Mitchell, in exchange for sexual gratification. Why Tilly did what she did has been discussed innumerable times, both by investigators carrying out the ensuing $23 million manhunt and also by the media.
But as the show reaches its finale in two weeks, and with the year ending, where is Tilly now and how did the whole incident impact her life? Played by Patricia Arquette, the on-screen Tilly acts extremely entitled. She is not considered a looker, going by social conventions of beauty, but that doesn't stop her dreams and ambitions of living a risque life outside her marriage, especially at Dannemora.
This leads her to indulge in gritty, prison room sex, first with Sweat, and eventually with Matt too, as the latter manipulates her into being part of their devious prison break plan by promising to kill her husband, prison employee Lyle Mitchell (Eric Lange), thus freeing her of a dull, mundane, lackluster marriage.
The latest update we have of Tilly - based purely on the show - has been her little stint at the hospital which stemmed from a panic attack. Tilly - true to the real-life incident - was supposed to pick up Matt and Sweat right after the two managed to dig out of the prison, but she bailed right at the last moment because of a panic attack that she mistook for a cardiac arrest and ended up going to the hospital.
This, of course, caused a total crumbling of Matt and Sweat's initial plan, and the two ended up walking on their own. The second episode revealed Tilly's future as it showed her being interrogated, and while Matt was eventually shot to death, and Sweat - shot and arrested - Tilly probably had the worst sentence of all, or so her husband Lyle would like to believe in real life.
Reportedly, the real-life Lyle also didn't allow the crew to film his and Tilly's home for the ongoing Showtime series on the infamous escape, but here's what we do know about how things panned out for Joyce 'Tilly' Mitchell. After Sweat was shot and taken into custody, Tilly pleaded guilty to promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation as part of a plea deal in July 2015, reported CNN.
In an interview with 'The Today Show', which Tilly did right ahead of her sentencing, she confessed to having cooperated with Matt and Sweat out of fear for her family's safety. "I just got in over my head and I couldn't get out," she shared.
CNN's follow up reports stated the judge was not convinced by either Tilly's confession or plea, and over three months later, on September 28, 2015, Tilly was finally punished with a sentence of up to seven years in prison for first-degree promoting prison contraband and a one-year concurrent sentence for fourth-degree criminal facilitation.
Along with that heavy sentence was also a fine of $6,375, and about that, Tilly told the judge, "If I could take it all back I would. I can't begin to explain how sorry I am for all this." Following this, NBC affiliate NBC5 WPTZ Burlington reported Tilly was moved to the maximum-security prison, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, in Westchester County, New York, the very next day.
What was even more shocking was that just a year later, the parole board unanimously denied Tilly an early release in February 2017. According to NBC, the board deemed her release was "incompatible with the welfare of society." The board also wrote, "You present yourself more as a victim than a responsible participant and appear to be emotionally unstable and easily manipulated."
Her next parole hearing scheduled for 2017 was postponed, and this is when her husband Lyle expressed his grievances over her sentence. In an interview with the Daily Mail Online, he shared: "I just want her home where she belongs. I just want for us to be left alone." Lyle also wasn't impressed by how former corrections officer Gene Palmer - also an accomplice in the case - had already been released at the time.
However, things looked better for Tilly in September 2017, when her date for the second parole hearing finally arrived, but it wasn't in her favor. She was denied a second time, and her attorney Peter Dumas told NBC5 that Tilly is "a model prisoner", while Tilly's son told Plattsburgh paper The Press-Republican that both he and his father were "very heartbroken."
As of now, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's Inmate Population Information Search doesn't reveal Tilly's current prison status, but the 54-year-old's next parole hearing is due in June 2019 and she could get released then. And, even if all fails for her next year, her conditional release date - which is decided by a prison staff committee based on the inmate's behavior - is set for February 8, 2020.