IONIA, Mich. (WZZM) - A convicted murderer serving life behind bars for four 1993 slayings has sparked a nationwide manhunt after he escaped from the Ionia County Correctional Facility and abducted a woman.
Michigan Department of Corrections officials believe Michael David Elliot, 40, escaped between 6 and 7 p.m. Sunday. He was discovered missing about 9:30 p.m. during a routine count of prisoners. He reportedly escaped from a vulnerable spot in the fence near the sally port, where service vehicles enter and leave the prison grounds.
"It appears that he created a hole at the bottom of the two perimeter fences of the correctional facility and then crawled through those holes," Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said.
The state corrections director Dan Heynes said there were some obvious flaws but they have since been fixed, including the vulnerable spot in the fence. Heynes promises a full investigation on how the escape happened.
Heynes also said that there was no evidence that anyone assisted Elliot and they believe this was a one-man operation. Elliot was described as having a clean record in the Ionia facility and was not considered a risk internally.
Authorities say Elliot abducted a woman Sunday evening from Ionia using a knife or box cutter and drove her Jeep to Elkhart, Indiana, roughly 100 miles southwest of Ionia near the Indiana-Michigan state line. The woman escaped when they stopped at a gas station, and she called police, Marlan said.
Elliot left the gas station and was at large Monday morning, Marlan said. MDOC did not release information about where Elliot might be heading or if he has out-of-state connections. He was serving life sentences for first-degree murder in Michigan's Gladwin County and has convictions for arson and armed robbery.
Elliot was last seen driving a 2004 red 4-door Jeep Liberty with a Michigan license plate 5FTG55 that he stole from the woman whom he abducted in Ionia. The vehicle has Bugs Bunny and Tasmanian Devil decals. The vehicle was in was last seen on I-80/94 in Indiana.
Elliott is described as being a white male, 5'8" tall and 165 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He does not have any tattoos or scars. He also goes by the names Michael Delarosa and Michael Shreader.
Elliot was reportedly wearing a white kitchen uniform, but was not assigned to work in the kitchen area.
Michigan State Police Lt. Troy Allen said he believes Elliot is no longer in Michigan. Michigan State Police are working with the Indiana State Police and the U.S. Marshall in finding Elliot.
Officers from the Michigan Department of Corrections, Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies are involved in the hunt for Elliot.
"Citizens should immediately call 911 if they observe anything suspicious or possibly become aware of the whereabouts of ... Elliot," Marlan said in the email.
(Copyright Gannett 2014)