GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who was sent to prison for the same four murders as escapee Michael Elliot says Elliot is innocent.
Elliot, 40, is serving five life sentences in state prison for a 1993 quadruple-homicide. On Feb. 2, he escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility and led police on 24-hour, two-state manhunt before being captured after a short police chase in LaPorte County, Ind.
Charles Treece is also serving five life sentences in a state prison for the killings. He talked to 24 Hour News 8 over the phone Wednesday from the Alger Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula.
He says he pulled the trigger and that Elliot played no part in the crime.
Elliot, Charles Treece, his brother Paul Treece and Tammy LaCross all faced charges for the quadruple-homicide near Midland. Among the victims were LaCross’s mother Vickie Currie and her mom’s boyfriend Mike Tufnell.
Treece says Elliot was found guilty because the two other co-defendants used him as a scapegoat.
Treece told 24 Hour News 8 that on the day of the crime, he was at Elliot’s house in Saginaw. Once Elliot went to sleep, his 16-year-old girlfriend LaCross and his 17-year-old brother Paul picked him up. They headed to a storage unit belonging to Tufnell to get LaCross’s clothes.
“Also she said there was money of Mike Tufnell’s, so we went there and she had drew maps
and all this stuff,” Treece said.
But they didn’t find anything, so they headed to Tufnell’s house.
“Paul dropped us off and parked down the road and me and Tammy went down there,” he said.
According to Treece, once inside the home, Tufnell woke up and reached for a gun on his nightstand. Treece said he and LaCross then committed the murders.
They torched the house. They stole the victims’ Cadillac and took off, dropping Treece back at Elliot’s house.
Treece said he put items from the storage unit in Elliot’s home because he was trying to hide them.
“I laid items down there until later on in the day when I had time to put them in the basement,” he said.
Then he says LaCross sold Elliot the gun used in the murders. Elliot had that gun when he was arrested and it was a key piece of evidence in his murder trial.
“I did try to tell the prosecutor twice,” Treece said.
24 Hour News 8 called that prosecutor. He said Treece never told him that.
Treece says he wants Elliot’s name to be cleared.
“Just to clear my conscience,” he said. “I knew he was innocent.”
Elliot has appealed his conviction 10 times. All have been rejected — most because there was no new evidence.
After being arrested in Indiana last week, Elliot told 24 Hour News 8’s Leon Hendrix that he broke out of prison because Michigan wouldn’t give him another chance to prove his innocence.
He has been fighting extradition back to Michigan, but 24 Hour News 8 was told Wednesday that Gov. Rick Snyder has sent request to Indiana’s governor asking for his return.