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Convicted murderer escapes prison

IONIA, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - There is an active search for a convicted murderer who escaped the Ionia Correctional Facility Sunday night.

Ionia Public Safety say Michael David Elliot escaped from the prison between 6:00-7:00 p.m. Sunday.

Elliot was discovered missing around 9:15 p.m. Sunday while corrections officers counted the prisoners.

He was wearing a white prison kitchen suit when he escaped. He did not work in the kitchen. Officers think the suit may have aided in his escape.

Officers say they have addressed an issue with the fence at the prison that allowed him to get out. They are conducting an internal investigation.

Elliot is believed to have abducted an Belding woman using a knife or box cutter and then drove her to a gas station in Middlebury, Indiana, right off U.S. 131.

Indiana State Police say he stopped to get gas for the stolen vehicle he is believed to be driving. He was spotted around 10:45 p.m.

The gas attendant at the station tells Newschannel 3 he did not believe there was anything suspicious when the pair came in.

He says the woman asked for the address while Elliot was pumping gas.

She then locked herself in the bathroom until police arrived. Elliot drove off.

The woman was not injured.

Ionia County Dispatch says the vehicle he was last seen driving is a 2004 Red Jeep Liberty has the registered license plate from Michigan "5FTG55". It is a four-door with a spare tire on the back.

The jeep has a sticker in the back window with the cartoon characters Taz, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

Elliot was wearing white shoes, black cargo pants, a white shirt, a scarf and a white beanie hat.

Elliot was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and was serving a life sentence. The murders took place near Gladwin, Michigan.

Elliot is 40 years old, about 5'8" weighing 165 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes.

He is considered armed and dangerous.

If you see Elliot, you are urged to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Investigators say that Elliot told the woman he may be going to Chicago or Cleveland, but he never said which one or why.

Police say he was on empty when Elliot got gas at the station and he only got 11 dollars worth of gas, mostly in change. He couldn't get very far.

There were no cameras outside the gas station, so police don't know which way he went.

Elliot didn't have money for tolls, so investigators don't think he would get on I-80. They say he's desperate.

A newspaper in Tennessee says that Elliot may have family in the state.

If you have a tip for police, call (616) 527-5616.

Click here for more on Elliot's past.

To hear the 9-1-1 call, click here.