Cops: Jeep stolen by escaped Michigan inmate found in Indiana

Escaped Mich. prisoner Michael David Elliot was captured on a surveillance camera at a gas station in northern Indiana before he was captured.
Michigan State Police

Shipshewana, Ind. - Authorities have located the vehicle believed to have been driven by escaped Michigan prisoner Michael David Elliot, a convicted four-time killer, in a parking lot in Shipshewana, Indiana, according to Michigan State Police.

The Jeep was found abandoned in a parking lot around 1 p.m., police said. Police have asked nearby Westview Schools to go into lock-down, reports CBS affiliate WWMT.

Police say Elliot, 40, escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan Sunday night. They say Elliot carjacked and abducted a woman and fled in her Jeep. The woman was able to escape when they stopped for gas at a gas station in Middlebury, Indiana, roughly 100 miles southwest of Ionia near the Indiana-Michigan state line, where his image was captured on surveillance camera.

Shipshewana, where the Jeep was discovered abandoned, is less than ten miles away from the gas station in Middlebury.

Police say Elliot was discovered missing from the central Michigan prison around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the  state Department of Corrections. WWMT reports he escaped several hours earlier, between 6 and 7 p.m.

Elliot was wearing a white prison kitchen suit when he escaped, reports the station, though he did not work in the kitchen. Officers reportedly suspect the outfit may have aided in his escape.

From the prison yard, "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," Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said in an email.

Once outside the prison, Elliot abducted a woman in Ionia using a knife or box cutter and drove with her in her Jeep to the gas station in northern Indiana.

The LaGrange County Sheriff's Department said she was able to call 911 from a concealed cellphone while he was pumping gas.

The woman ran to a restroom where she locked herself inside. Elliot knocked on the door, but she stayed inside until police officers arrived. She wasn't harmed, officials said at a news conference.

An alert on Elliot has been issued to law enforcement nationwide. The woman told police that he said he wanted to get as far from the Michigan prison as possible.

"We had dog teams. We had a helicopter from the state police," Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns said. "The response was good but he'd left the area by the time we were mobilized totally 100 percent. It didn't take him long to get down to Indiana. ... His flight path now has expanded dramatically."

Nothing in his record suggested he might escape, Heyns said.

"He had no assistance. This was an entirely one-man operation," the prisons chief said.

Elliot was serving life behind bars for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20 years old, according to court records. Elliot and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said.

He was arrested a few days later in possession of 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.

Elliot was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Measures have been taken to tighten security at the prison, Heyns said. Marlan said all other prisoners at the Ionia Correctional Facility were accounted for.