2 Ionia prison employees suspended after murderer breaks out

7:56 PM, Feb 7, 2014   |    comments
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IONIA, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- An officer and a shift commander who were working at the Ionia Correctional Facility the evening a convicted murder escaped were suspended today.

The employees, who were not named, were suspended for alleged "work rule violations," Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan told the Free Press this afternoon.

"There's an employee disciplinary process that has to play out," he said, declining to elaborate on the alleged violations.

Michael David Elliot, 40, who was serving a life sentence for four murders, escaped on Sunday and abducted a woman who was later able to call 911 and lock herself in a gas station station restroom until police arrived.

Marlan did not say whether MDOC officials believe the rules the employees are accused of violating would have made a difference in the escape.

The ongoing MDOC investigation is expected to be completed some time next week, he said.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Schuette will conduct an investigation into the recent prison break, Gov. Rick Snyder announced today.

"Ensuring public safety is paramount," Snyder said in a news release.

"Thankfully no one was physically injured in this dangerous prisoner's escape and apprehension, but we must have an exhaustive investigation into the circumstances that led to this incident and take whatever appropriate action may be necessary to prevent future occurrences."

Snyder said he has "full confidence" in the internal investigation under way by Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns, but "this additional step will supplement and be independent from that to ensure we have the most thorough and comprehensive information possible."

Democrats and union officials have said prison budget cutbacks that affected perimeter patrols and tower staffing could have contributed to the escape.

Schuette said he will lead "an aggressive investigation, without fear or favor."

"We'll follow the facts to find out what happened and why. We will issue a full and complete report."

Elliot was apprehended by Indiana authorities Monday and is expected to face criminal charges in both Indiana and Michigan.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com


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