Authorities have launched a nationwide manhunt for a convicted killer who escaped from a Michigan prison and then abducted a woman who later broke free in Indiana, officials said on Monday.
Michael David Elliot, 40, serving life in prison for four killings, was reported missing Sunday night from the Ionia Correctional Facility, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan told the Los Angeles Times. After leaving the prison, Elliot abducted an unidentified woman after threatening her with a knife or box cutter and then drove about 100 miles before the woman escaped during a stop for gasoline in Elkhart, Ind.
“We have a nationwide manhunt under way,” Marlan said. Elliot hasn't been seen since "witnesses said he was driving away to the freeway. It was unclear what direction he was going.
“He could be in an entirely different vehicle, wearing different clothing, and even in a different state,” Marlan said. “This is a dangerous individual serving time for serious crimes.”
Elliott was convicted in 1993 of shooting four people to death and then setting their house on fire in Michigan's Gladwin County. He was serving life sentences for first-degree murder and has convictions for arson and armed robbery.
Corrections officials were investigating the details of the escape, but it appeared that Elliot was dressed in a white kitchen uniform when he escaped between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. The white uniform allowed him to blend into the snow outside, officials said.
“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,” Marlan said.
Elliot then captured a woman from Ionia and the pair drove off in her Jeep to Elkhart, near the Indiana-Michigan state line. The woman escaped at the gas station and called police, Marlan said.
An emergency count was conducted at the Ionia Correctional Facility and the other prisoners have been accounted for, Marlan said.
It is believed that Elliot acted alone, officials said.