While the country was caught up in the Superbowl, a convicted murdered escaped from a Michigan prison and fled the state with a hostage in tow. The hostage alerted authorities of his whereabouts when she called 911 and managed to break free. The manhunt for Michael David Elliot ended when he was caught in a stolen vehicle in Indiana.
Elliot was convicted of killing two men and two women over drug money. He attempted to cover up the murders in Galdwin County by setting the house on fire. He was found guilty in 1994 after he was charged for four counts of first degree murder, in addition to arson and armed robbery. He began serving his life sentence at the Ionia Correctional Facility in mid-Michigan, where he was considered a cooperative inmate.
40-year-old Elliot was first noticed missing from the Michigan facility at 9:30 pm on Sunday. He used a white kitchen uniform to get past security guards and blend in with the snow. He dug beneath two fences and managed to crawl underneath them. He successfully bypassed armed guards, 12-foot fences and security cameras. He had been missing for hours before the national alert was posted, which helped Indiana authorities to eventually catch the escaped convict.
The manhunt went beyond the national media alert because he was regarded as armed and dangerous. Efforts to capture the convict included dog teams, a state police helicopter, school lock-downs and door-to-door searches. Once he left Michigan, he cast a much wider escape route.
He used a box cutter and a hammer to hijack a woman sitting in traffic. He held her hostage until they stopped for fuel around several hours later in Middleton, near the state line. The woman was able to dial 911 on her cell phone when he got out to pump the gas. She was instructed to lock herself in the gas station bathroom. Elliot tried to coax her out, but he ended up leaving without her. She did not leave the restroom until the police arrived, but he was still on the loose. Her Jeep was found empty just 10 miles from the gas station.
Monday evening the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call about a stolen vehicle. They spotted the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which Elliot was driving. He refused to stop, which led to a brief chase that ended in Kankakee Township, where the car was disabled by stop sticks.
The woman he abducted was unharmed. She told the 911 operator that Elliot simply wanted to get far away from Ionia. Elliot faces additional charges on car theft and resisting arrest in Indiana.
Now that the escaped convict has been caught and is being held without bond in an Indiana county jail, Michigan authorities are investigating exactly how he was able to escape. Gov. Rick Snyder insists that a thorough investigation is necessary to prevent future incidents. It is unclear how he bypassed the electric fence and whether it was working properly. Motion detectors at the fence also failed to alert security. Authorities believe he acted alone, but security at the facility has been tightened.
By Tracy Rose