Michigan prison escapee captured in Indiana
INDIANA — Escaped Michigan convict Michael David Elliot was captured Monday in LaPorte County, Indiana, authorities said.
His capture ended a manhunt that kicked into overdrive after a woman abducted by Elliot managed to call 911.
Locked in a gas station bathroom, she whispers into her cell phone, as he banged on the door.
“He didn’t say where, exactly, he just said somewhere far,” she says in the 911 call, telling the dispatcher about the escaped convict she says had abducted her some two hours before with a box cutter and a hammer.
She slipped away from him when they stopped for gas.
“He’s knocking on the bathroom door saying, ‘Let’s go!’ ” the 911 dispatcher says to other emergency workers in recordings released by authorities.
The Sunday night call from an Elkhart, Indiana, gas station had been the first sign of Elliot, a convicted murderer, since his escape hours before from Ionia Correctional Facility in central Michigan.
On Monday, a homeowner in LaGrange County, Indiana, found the woman’s Jeep Liberty in a residential area of the town of Shipshewana, about 20 miles east of Elkhart, sheriff’s spokesman Arron Knisley said.
Elliot himself remained missing then, however. Details on his capture were not immediately available.
Prison authorities discovered Elliot gone about 9:30 p.m. Sunday. He apparently pulled back the bottoms of two fences and crawled underneath to escape, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russell L. Marlan said.
He was serving five life sentences on a 1994 conviction for killing four people, according to Michigan Department of Corrections records. Authorities warned the public not to mess with him.
The kidnapped woman, whose name has not been released by authorities, told a 911 dispatcher from her bathroom stronghold that Elliot forced his way into her red Jeep Liberty as she sat parked on West Main Street in Ionia.
He was an escaped convict, he told her. Murder, she said. And he had a box cutter and a hammer.
But, she said, he hadn’t hurt her.
“He just wants to get someplace far from Ionia,” she told the dispatcher.
Unfortunately for police, by the time they arrived at the Marathon gas station, Elliot had fled in the woman’s Jeep.
He was seen getting on Interstate 80/90, but authorities don’t know which direction he was traveling or where he was heading.
The interstate connects Elkhart with Chicago to the west and Toledo, Ohio, to the east.
Elliot was known as a good prisoner, according to Corrections Director Daniel Heyens.
“Nothing in this man’s history would have indicated a high risk of escape,” Heyens said. “He was serving his time.”
Prison authorities believe he acted alone, Heyens said.
According to court documents, Elliot was convicted in the August 1993 murders of Vickie Currie; her boyfriend, Michael Tufnell; his brother Bruce Tufnell; and Kathy Lane, CNN affiliate WXMI reported.
Elliot and three others hatched a plan to steal drug money, WXMI said, and after they didn’t find the money, Elliot and another man killed the four victims and set Michael Tufnell’s house on fire.