Prisoner had near-miss with guard during escape

IONIA, Mich. (AP) — A convicted killer captured in Indiana some 24 hours after making after a daring escape from a Michigan prison came within 20 feet of a guard on a perimeter vehicle patrol before he fled unnoticed, a corrections official said.

Officers in a control center assigned to monitor surveillance video also failed to see Michael David Elliot during Sunday’s escape, an oversight that allowed him to get off Ionia Correctional Facility property, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said the surveillance video shows Elliot’s escape. According to court records, Elliot began his escape at 6 p.m. Sunday and was out of the facility by 6:53 p.m. Corrections officers noticed Elliot was missing around 9:15 p.m. Sunday during a prisoner count.

“You can clearly see him leaving his housing unit, going to an area that prisoners are not allowed to be in, go down to the fence line and then spend the better part of an hour going through two perimeter fences,” Marlan said.

“Obviously, had that been noticed, he wouldn’t have been able to leave the correctional facility.”

Elliot, 40, was arrested Monday in a stolen vehicle in northwestern Indiana, about 24 hours after fleeing prison. He has refused to waive extradition and is being held in Indiana on a $1 million bond. On Tuesday, he said he made a run for it after 20 years in custody because he “just wanted a second chance.”

Corrections officials expect to wrap up their internal investigation next week, Marlan said.

The fences are equipped with motion sensors and carry electric current to shock anyone who touches them, but Marlan said Elliot used his hands to loosen and pull back fencing on vehicle gate portions that don’t carry an electric charge. Motion sensors should have triggered an alarm and flashing light in the control center, Marlan said.

“They were properly functioning sensors but yet they didn’t go off, or he obviously wasn’t detected,” Marlan said.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder demanded an “exhaustive assessment” of how Elliot broke out of the western Michigan prison. Elliot was wearing a white kitchen uniform that may have helped him blend with snow.

Elliot is charged with auto theft in Indiana. He’s also charged with carjacking, kidnapping and escape in Michigan.

Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20 years old. He and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said.
Information from: The Grand Rapids Press,

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