GLADWIN, Mich. — Gladwin County Sheriff Mike Shea, was a young deputy at the time of the crime. He said that, based on the nature of the past attack, Elliot is a very dangerous fugitive.
Elloiot was charged in the shooting death and torching of four people in a home in rural Gladwin County, near Rhodes, Mich. He escaped from the Ionia Correctional Facility Sunday night and was captured the next day in LaPorte County, Ind.
Mike Elliot was convicted of four counts of felony murder in 1994 after nearly a week-long trial in the Gladwin County Courthouse.
“Initial call went out that there was structure fire,” said Shea about the 1993 homicide. First responders arrived in the 3700 block of Pinconning Road in Bently Township to find the home in flames.
“They found that there were victims in the house,” said Shea. “We thought a structure fire with people inside that hadn’t woken up, and then it went on from that into a homicide.”
After some investigating of that fire, the hunt was on for Michael Elliot and three others who were allegedly involved in the crime.
Elliot was accused with another man of killing four people, and they were charged with arson for burning down the house.
“To have homicides in general, in Gladwin County, was a rare thing. Then to have a quadruple homicide, it was almost unheard of.”
“The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to each victim,” The Gladwin County Record newspaper dated August, 11, 1993, reported. It went on to say that two victims were found in one bedroom of the home while the other two were found in another bedroom.
A court document containing testimony of what co-defendants said happened that day Elliot spells out some of the things that happened leading up to the murders.
Witness Tammy LaCross was only around 16 years old when the trial happened. She and a young man were waiting in what may have been considered a getaway car that was parked down the road from the house.
She testified against Elliot at the trial.
She said that before the murders, she had told two friends, who were brothers, that she believed her mother’s live-in boyfriend, Michael Tufnell, had drug money hidden in a storage facility, and that they should steal it.
They go Elliot involved; he was staying in Saginaw at the time.
The four met and went to the storage facility but couldn’t find any money inside. Court documents state that the four then went to the home of LaCross’s mother to see if the money was hidden there.
The group then decided to break into the house shared by her mom, Vickie Currie, and Tufnell. Elliot and one of the other two men were supposed to go in and rob Tufnell. Court documents state that Elliot and one of the other men, “exited the car wearing gloves and carrying guns.”
There were four victims in the home at the time, including LaCross’ mother.
According to the testimony, Elliot “had shot everyone in the back of the head.” The victims were Currie, Tufnel, Bruce Squires Tuffnell, Jr, and his girlfriend, Kathy Lane.
“It certainly was a very tragic case,” said Tom Evans, now the Judge of 55th Circuit Court in Clare and Gladwin County and prosecutor for Gladwin County at the time of the murders. “Four people killed, and killed in their own home, four defendants prosecuted.”
“It took a week or so and certainly emotions were high because there was some distraught and utterly devastated family members.”
Shea said he was concerned for the safety of those who came in contact with Elliot prior to his capture. “I can’t stress to you enough, anybody that comes into contact with him, based on what I know of him and what was investigated during this particular crime, I’m telling you he’s dangerous.”