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Prison escapee captured in LaPorte County

Michael David Elliot, 40, who was convicted of four murders in 1993 and escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility in Michigan Sunday night, was in the custody of the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department by Monday evening following a search for him in Shipshewana earlier in the day after a vehicle he was driving was discovered there.

At approximately 12:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department received a call from a resident in the 400 block of North State Street in Shipshewana reporting that a red Jeep Liberty was parked just outside of her residence. This call came as a result of a news story that she had heard regarding both the escape and the vehicle that Elliot was last known to be in. 

Within minutes, Shipshewana Town Marshal Tom Fitch arrived at the scene and once he determined that the Jeep was in fact the same one that Elliot was last in possession of, he quickly had Shipshewana-Scott Elementary School and other area schools locked down.

 Officers from the Indiana State Police, LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department, Wolcottville Police, Middlebury Police, Topeka Police Department, LaGrange Police Department, Indiana Conservation Officers, Railroad Police, and the Shipshewana Fire Department all converged on Shipshewana to begin a methodical house-to-house search for Elliot.

Shortly after the search began, officials from the Michigan State Police and U.S. Marshals Service also arrived to assist. 

At approximately 5:30 p.m., the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department suspended the search and was encouraging residents to remain vigilant and to report any and all suspicious activity.

Sometime after 6 p.m., a deputy with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a reported stolen vehicle when the vehicle sped away. After a short pursuit, the vehicle stopped and the driver, who was identified as Elliot, was arrested and taken to the LaPorte County Jail, where he is currently being held.

Officials later determined that Elliot had somehow gotten himself to Middlebury, where it is believed he broke into the Crystal Valley Missionary Church. He reportedly broke an air duct to warm himself up and stole steak knives and clothing.

A witness later told authorities that they saw Elliot steal a Ford Escort from the Das Essenhaus Restaurant in Middlebury. That vehicle was later found in a Laporte County strip mall parking lot.  He was observed stealing a vehicle from a factory parking lot in LaPorte and was apprehended after the vehicle’s owner called 911.