GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michael Elliot was just 20 years old when a jury convicted him of four counts of murder and he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Elliot, now 40, escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility Sunday. He was arrested Monday evening in LaPorte County, Ind.
He was convicted in of the August 1993 murders Vickie Currie, her boyfriend Michael Tufnell, Bruce Squires Tufnell Jr. and Cathy Lave.
Elliot and three other people broke into a house in Bentley Township — north of Midland — intending to rob it. It’s not clear why, but the four people were shot and killed. The house was then set on fire.
Dorothy Tufnell is the mother of Michael Tufnell and aunt of Bruce Tufnell. She told 24 Hour News 8 in a phone interview that Bruce Tufnell was not an intended target — he and his fiancee Cathy Lave were staying at her son’s house before a family reunion that was planned for the next day.
She said she never knew Elliot before the murders and was surprised when she first saw him.
“As far as looking at him, you would have never have thought that. He was a very nice-looking, clean-cut young man. Even the prosecutor was kind of worried about that because looking at him he thought maybe the jury wouldn’t believe that,” Dorothy Tufnell told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.
The jury heard a story about 16-year-old Tammy LaCross, who targeted her own mother Vickie Currie and her boyfriend Michael Tufnell for a robbery. They heard about brothers Charles and Paul Treece, who along with Michael Elliott stole a gun from Michael Tufnell and used it to kill the four people.
Elliot always maintained his innocence.
But the jury didn’t buy it. Both Elliot and Charles Treece were both convicted of the murders, robbery, arson and a firearms charge. They both received five life sentences.
LaCross and Paul Treece pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified against the other two.
Dorothy Tufnell heard every bit of the testimony.
“From the first day we went, there were all kinds of deputies there on every floor. I just assumed that’s how court worked but I found out later, no, it isn’t,” Tufnell said.
Monday, she wondered why that level of security was not continued.
Before his evening capture in Indiana, Dorothy Tufnell told 24 Hour News 8 she was concerned Elliot could kill again.
“He probably would do anything to, you know, not go back to prison. He has a life sentence without parole,” she said. “I think the woman who he carjacked and got away from him was probably very lucky.”
And the longer he was free, she more was concerned.
“I thought it would be like two or three hours and they would find him,” she said.
Instead, it was closer to 24 hours before Elliot was arrested in Indiana.