Prison Break Blamed on Equipment Breakdown and Human Error
State lawmakers getting the first official information on just what might have led to the escape from the Ionia Correctional Facility earlier this month that resulted in a multi-state manhunt for a convicted killer.
Members of a Senate Subcommittee Thursday heard from Corrections Department Director Dan Heynes on the breakdown that led to Michael David Elliot gaining his freedom. The man, convicted of four murders in Gladwin County in 1993, was taken into custody the following day in Indiana while allegedly driving a stolen vehicle.
Heyns acknowledged that a motion detector, that should have picked up Elliot's presence in a restricted area on the prison grounds, malfunctioned, but questioned whether staff security within the facility was up to standards that night. He denied, though, suggestions that budget cuts left the prison vulnerable to such escapes.
Elliot told the Detroit Free Press in an interview from jail that the escape was "relatively easy" and in the planning stages for two weeks. He says he used a belt to break through one of the security fences and laid in the snow to avoid detection by guards.
Union officials were quick to answer critics who suggested that some guards might have been distracted on that Super Bowl Sunday, saying surveillance monitors were being watched by prison guards. Still, Elliot was able to gain his release and walk a mile to an area where he allegedly was able to carjack a woman and head out of state.