GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the key players who helped put Michael Elliot behind bars said he doesn’t know whether Elliot committed four murders in 1993, and that he got involved in the case because he didn’t have a choice.
Elliot, 40, escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility on Feb. 2. He made it as far as LaPorte, Ind. — allegedly carjacking one woman and stealing a total of four vehicles — before being captured after a brief police chase on Feb. 3.
Elliot was serving five life sentences for four homicides near Midland in Gladwin County. He and Charles Treece were convicted of the killings. Charles’ brother Paul Treece and Charles’ girlfriend Tammy LaCross also served time related to the murders — they both struck plea deals for lesser charges and testified against Elliot.
Edward Hendrix of Grand Rapids testified against Elliot during his trial in 1994, saying he bragged about the murders.
Hendrix said he had two choices: To be either a witness to the crime or an informant for police. He chose to help police.
“I didn’t want to do it in the first place. They [the defendants] used me for an alibi,” Edward Hendrix said.
Hendrix said he met Michael Elliot at the W.J. Maxey Boys Training School, a camp for juvenile delinquents north of Ann Arbor.
“When we got out, we ended up meeting up because he lived in Saginaw and I lived in Grand Rapids, so after that we became friends and just hung out in the neighborhood,” Hendrix said.
He said Elliot introduced him to the Treeces, and they introduced him to LaCross.
Hendrix said he wasn’t at the murder scene and doesn’t know who did what. All he knows is what happened after.
“The police pulled up and they were looking for me,” Hendrix said.
Two days after the murders, Hendrix said, he was at a party store near Burton Street and Palace Avenue SE in Grand Rapids when police approached him.
“They said they already knew that Tammy and Paul and everybody was involved because they had fingerprints and evidence that they were there, so basically they said, ‘Either you can go with being their alibi or you can work with us,’” Hendrix said. “I wasn’t there. I didn’t have anything to do with it and they wasn’t with me, so I wasn’t going to be an alibi for them.”
So Hendrix participated in a secretly recorded conversation involving Tammy LaCross and Paul Treece. In it, they discussed what happened the night of the murders.
According to transcripts provided by Hendrix, he is quoted saying that Elliot told him, “Yeah, we smoked them hoes.”
It was that conversation that helped put Elliot behind bars, along with other evidence and testimony.
Elliot has maintained his innocence and filed several appeals — all of which have been rejected.
Earlier this month, Charles Treece told 24 Hour News 8 in an phone interview from the Alger Correctional Facility in the UP — where he is serving five life sentences — that he and LaCross committed the murders and that Elliot is innocent.
Elliot remains locked up on auto theft charges in Indiana, where he is fighting extradition. Whether he’s headed back to Michigan may be decided Friday.