Details of Mid-Michigan escapee's prison break released - WNEM TV 5

Details of Mid-Michigan escapee's prison break released

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IONIA, MI (WNEM) -

The details involving the escape of a convicted killer from a Mid-Michigan prison have been released.

Michael David Elliot escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility on February 2 and a report is out that details the failures by staff and equipment that allowed the incident to happen.

Elliot says the escape seed was first planted two years ago when a fellow inmate told him security at the prison was weak.

But it wasn't until four months before his escape that he started to plan his moves. His plans were detailed in a report released Thursday by the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Elliot told investigators he skipped dinner on the night of his escape and changed into white clothing which he had fabricated out of his thermal underwear. That enabled him to blend in to the snow. 

Later that evening, while out in the yard, Elliot crawled in the snow towards the sally port, a place where inmates are transported in and out of the prison.

He made it under three fences. One was already damaged and the other two he picked apart using some crafting scissors and his belt. 

As Elliot hid in the snow, an officer patrolling the prison perimeter passed right by him several times.

Two key sensors, called microwave zones, designed to detect movement just a few feet above the ground were not activated by corrections officers, something that requires just a click of a mouse. 

The Department of Corrections report says this failure to re-set the zones played a major role in the escape.   

Investigators also cited a fence alarm called an e-flex zone. It was de-activated several years ago when a different fence alarm was installed elsewhere.

The report says, it may prevent future escape attempts through this area and may have prevented this escape.

The report also address the prison's gun towers, which were unstaffed. A move made by the D.O.C. a while back to save money.

The report notes enhanced video surveillance, shock fences, e-flex zones and microwave zones were put in place in lieu of staffing the gun towers.

Two of the four measures were not working at the time Elliot escaped.

The Department of Corrections has outlined an 11-point plan to take a hard look at security at all Michigan prisons.

This includes a review of all fences, gates and sally ports and prison uniforms.

Wardens are to submit their top five security requests to the department and staff can expect additional training.

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