Michael David Elliot, 40, killed four people during a home break-in in Bentley Township, Michigan, in 1994. Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. he was determined to be missing from the Ionia Correctional Facility where he’s spent the better part of 20 years. Here’s what you need to know about him, and the threat he poses:
1. He Abducted a Woman Last Night
MSN reports that shortly after his escape, Elliot forced his way into the vehicle of an Ionia woman using either a knife or box-cutter. He then drove roughly 100 miles southwest to Elkart, Indiana. Once there, Elliot stopped for gas, and the woman ran from the car to the gas-station’s bathroom. Elliot knocked on the bathroom’s door, but she stayed locked inside until police arrived.
Her car was found on Monday in the town of Shipshewana, Indiana.
2. Elliot Killed Four People, Laughed About It Afterwards
Elliot, along with Charles Treece, Paul Treece and Tammy LaCross, conspired to steal drug money from the boyfriend of Lacross’ mother. Court records, offer a detailed narrative of the robbery turned murder, as told Tammy LaCross and Paul treece.
According to their testimony, the four initially believed the money could be found in a storage unit owned by the aforementioned boyfriend Michael Tufnell. They broke into the unit but found no money. They proceeded to break into several other units, acquiring a .28 gauge shotgun, a bag of ammunition, and a lot of liquor.
Chuck Treece then asked LaCross if her aunt still had a safe in her house. When LaCrosse confirmed that she did, the four decided to steal money from there. After driving by the house and finding its lights on, they decided to break into the home LaCross’ mother shared with Michael Tufnell instead.
Paul Treece and Lacross waited out in the car, and eventually fell asleep. Lacross woke to the sound of gunshots.
Elliot would later be convicted of murdering Lacross’ mother Vickie Currie and Michael Tufnell. Cathy Lane, and Bruxe Squires Tufnell, Jr. were also killed.
Lacross saw Treece and Elliot light the house on fire, before Charles Treece drove by in the deceased Lane’s Cadillac. Once the four suspects arrived at Elliot’s aunt’s house, Elliot began laughing as he described shooting the victims in the backs of their heads. Chuck Treece told the others Lacross had shot Tufnell and Lane in their faces.
In the documents, submitted by Elliot’s attorney to appeal his conviction, Elliot alleges that at the time of his trial, the prosecution hid from the defense a letter written by Charles Treece, in which Treece proclaimed Elliot’s innocence. Elliot claims he had no knowledge of the letter until Charles Treece wrote an affidavit in 2005, in which he corroborated Elliot’s version of events. In Elliot’s telling, the Treeces and LaCross snuck out of his aunt’s house to commit their crimes at night, while Elliot slept, using weapons and tools stolen from Elliot, which they then hid in his aunt’s basement upon their return the following morning.
3. His Co-Conspirators Received Plea Deals For Testifying Against Him
According to those same court documents, Paul Treece pled guilty to one count of armed robbery and one count felony use of a firearm, and is currently out on probation. Lacross pled guilty to armed robbery and felony-firearm possession, the prosecution dropping all murder, arson and breaking and entering charges in exchange for her testimony against Elliot.
4. Elliott Escaped By Dressing as a Member of the Kitchen Staff
Ionia Correctional Facility spokesman Russ Marlan told MSN that Elliot wore a “white civilian kitchen uniform” which he used to avoid security, and then blend in with the snow surrounding the facility.
Elliot then managed to slip through electrified fences that were equipped with motion sensors without being detected by security or zapped with electricity.
Sources told WXMI-TV that prison workers discovered a hole in a fence on the prison grounds and believe Elliot escaped through it. All of the other inmates at the Ionia Correctional Facility have been accounted for.
Elliot was discovered missing roughly two and a half hours after authorities believe he escaped.
Michigan Corrections Department Director Dan Heyns defended the department’s response saying:
“We had dog teams. We had a helicopter from the state police. The response was good but he’d left the area by the time we were mobilized totally 100 percent. It didn’t take him long to get down to Indiana. … His flight path now has expanded dramatically.”
Heyns said there was nothing in Elliot’s 20-year prison record that indicated he was a risk for escape.
5. All Residents of Shipshewana, Indiana Have Been Asked to Stay in Their Homes
As the manhunt for Elliot continues, LaGrange County Sheriff’s officers have requested that all of the town’s residents stay locked inside their homes, after the car Elliot stole was found in Shipshewana this morning.
Elliot had been serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole.
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