Michigan prison escapee agrees to return from Ind. - WNEM TV 5


Michigan prison escapee agrees to return from Ind.

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Michael David Elliot Michael David Elliot
Surveillance video of Michael David Elliot Surveillance video of Michael David Elliot

A convicted killer who escaped from a Michigan prison was due to return there after withdrawing his court motion fighting extradition from Indiana.

Michael David Elliot maintained his innocence after the brief hearing Thursday in LaPorte County, Ind., shouting "I'm innocent" from an elevator after being escorted from the courtroom.

Deputy LaPorte County Prosecutor Christopher Fronk says Michigan authorities were in LaPorte and expected to return Elliot to that state later Thursday. An auto theft charge against Elliot in LaPorte County was dropped.

Elliot escaped Feb. 2 from the Ionia Correctional Facility and was captured in northern Indiana the next day.

Elliot was serving life in prison without parole after being convicted of fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20.

Michigan's top prison official is taking responsibility for the escape.

Corrections Department Director Dan Heyns told Michigan lawmakers he's certain of the root cause and circumstances surrounding the Feb. 2 escape. But he declined to share many specifics, citing an ongoing attorney general's investigation.

Heyns believes the technology was in place to prevent the escape. He says the escapee exploited vulnerabilities but did not want to elaborate in public. Heyns says despite the fact Elliott was a convicted murderer there were no indications he was a flight risk.

Authorities say Elliot peeled a hole in two fences with his hands to escape from the Ionia Correctional Facility on Sunday night.

Officials say he was dressed in a white kitchen uniform, which might have helped him blend in with snow and evade security.

Heyns is speeding up the upgrade of surveillance cameras and lighting at the Ionia prison. He's also reviewing snow removal policies and the color of inmates' clothing.

Heyns says budget cuts weren't a factor and if monitoring equipment had been properly maintained, Michael Elliot would've been seen before leaving the grounds.

Elliot abducted a woman from Ionia using a knife or box cutter and drove to Elkhart in Indiana, where they stopped for gas. Marlan says the woman was able to escape at the gas station and call 911. Marlan says Elliot fled the scene before police arrived. 

Elliot was sentenced to serve four life sentences in prison in 1994 for four murders in Gladwin County. Court documents say Elliot set a house in Bentley Township on fire back in 1993 and Vickie Currie, Michael Tuffnell, Bruce Squires Tuffnell Jr. and Kathy Lane were killed.

In court records, police say Elliot and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer. He was arrested a few days later and possessed a gun that was tied to the slayings. One of Elliot's co-defendants testified against him, saying he laughed about shooting the victims in the head.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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