Tuesday, February 4
IONIA, Mich. (AP) — A convicted killer captured in a stolen car in Indiana after a daring one-day escape from a Michigan prison has been charged with kidnapping and other crimes, officials said Tuesday.
The charges were filed in Ionia County, Mich., while police were hunting for Michael David Elliot, who was arrested Monday night in LaPorte County, Ind., more than 150 miles from the Ionia Correctional Facility.
Elliot, 40, was charged with escape, kidnapping and carjacking, according to the Ionia County District Court. He is accused of escaping through two prison fences Sunday night and then stealing a Jeep with a woman inside while armed with a box cutter.
The woman escaped when they stopped for gas in Elkhart County, Ind. The Jeep was later found abandoned in nearby Shipshewana, Ind. By evening, Elliot was captured in another stolen vehicle in LaPorte County, Ind.
Authorities are now left to sort out exactly how Elliot was able to get out of the Michigan prison. Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan said the prisoner somehow made holes in two fences using his hands. The fences were equipped with motion sensors to alert guards. The fences also carry electric current to shock anyone who touches them.
"It appears that did not happen. ... He was not zapped with electricity, and he was not picked up by the motion sensors," Marlan said.
Michigan now will seek to extradite Elliot. The process could take days or weeks unless Elliot waives extradition and agrees to return without a series of court hearings, said David Glickfield, a criminal defense lawyer in Marion, Ind., not involved in the case.
The woman whom Elliot abducted was able to call 911 from a concealed cellphone while Elliot was pumping gas at the store near Middlebury, Ind.
In the 911 call, the woman calmly tells the dispatcher her location and says she has been abducted.
"I'm hostage to an escaped convict from Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Mich.," the woman says, according to a recording of the 911 call.
On the dispatcher's advice, she ran to a restroom and locked herself inside. Elliot knocked on the door, but the woman stayed locked in there until police arrived.
Authorities then launched a door-to-door hunt of the area, but didn't track Elliot down until hours later after getting a report of a car stolen from a factory in the city of LaPorte, said sheriff's Maj. John Boyd. A deputy who happened to be nearby spotted the Chevrolet Monte Carlo "within a few seconds," he said.
Elliot tried to run but he was arrested and taken to jail, where he was being held without bond, Boyd said.
Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20 years old, according to court records. Elliot and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said.