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Convicted multiple murderer escapes from Michigan prison

Michael David Elliot (photo courtesy Michigan Dept. of Corrections)
Michael David Elliot (photo courtesy Michigan Dept. of Corrections)

(Reuters) - A man serving time for murdering four people in a robbery escaped from a central Michigan prison during Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast and remained on the loose after kidnapping a woman and forcing her to drive to Indiana, prison authorities said on Monday.

The stolen vehicle was found in northern Indiana around midday on Monday, but the convict, Michael David Elliot, 40, has not been found, according to local officials. The woman had escaped earlier and called police.

Elliot escaped at about 7 p.m. Sunday (0000 GMT Monday) through perimeter fences at the prison in Ionia, where he was serving four life sentences for the 1993 murders, Michigan's corrections department said.

Armed with a box cutter knife and a hammer, Elliot kidnapped a woman in Ionia and forced her to travel for about 100 miles before stopping at a gas station in the area of Middlebury, Indiana, according to the LaGrange County sheriff's website.

The woman called police while Elliot was pumping gas, and 911 dispatchers advised her to go inside the gas station and lock herself in the rest room, the statement said. Elliot paid for the gasoline and drove away.

The vehicle Elliot stole, a 2004 red Jeep Liberty, was found in Shipshewana, Indiana, according to a LaGrange County sheriff's dispatcher. Shipshewana is less than 10 miles from Middlebury, near the Indiana border with Michigan.

An area school district, The Westview School Corporation, was put on lock down as a precaution, a district secretary said.

Elliot was convicted of four murders in connection with an armed robbery of a residence in 1993. The prison's website listed Elliot as white, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 165 pounds, with brown hair and eyes and tattoos on both arms.

His picture shows him with a mustache. The kidnapped woman told police he had put on a pair of her black cargo pants and also was wearing a jacket.

Elliot did not use tools to get through the prison fences, but apparently was able to adjust them with his hands to fit his body through, according to Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan.

He said prison officials were making changes at Ionia and other facilities that have similar security systems.

Marlan said Michigan officials, who are working with U.S. marshals and other law enforcement, had "a couple of leads" on Elliot's destination but did not want to provide too many details.

According to court records, Elliot was also convicted of arson.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz, David Bailey and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Leslie Adler)

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