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Husband, wife reunited after escaped inmate kidnapping

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A relived husband brought his wife home from a kidnapping, safe and sound, and Newschannel 3 was honored to be there for the happy homecoming.

The Department of Corrections in Ionia County told Newschannel 3 on Monday that Michael Elliot took off from the Ionia Correctional Facility about two hours before he was discovered missing.

He was able to make it under two fences by bending them with his hands.

They say he then walked into Ionia and kidnapped a woman, who thankfully returned safely home to her husband Monday.

A relieved husband, Mike VanWormer brought his wife Cheryl home to Belding Monday afternoon.

"Hopefully she is doing okay," said Rob Salik, a friend of Cheryl's. "I know she is pretty tough. She knew to hide her cellphone and get away as soon as possible."

It all stems from Elliot's escape from prison Sunday night.

"We were doing a formal count and realized he was missing," said Russell Marlan, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Elliot reportedly borrowed another inmate's white kitchen uniform and crawled through the snow, under two fences, and walked into town.

There, he allegedly carjacked VanWormer with a box cutter, forcing his way into her red Jeep Liberty and heading south.

They eventually stopped at a gas station in Middlebury, Indiana, where she locked herself in a bathroom and called 9-1-1.

"He had no prior history and no indication he would be an escape risk," Marlan said of Elliot, adding that he "worked his way down to medium security."

Elliot has been an inmate in Ionia County since 1994, when he was given four life sentences for shooting four people outside the Lansing area and setting a house on fire.

Sources also tell Newschannel 3 that there was another escape attempt at the Ionia Correctional Facility less than two months ago.

The Department of Corrections says they've fixed the part of the fence that Elliot targeted, and assure us that successful escape attempts like this are rare.