Traverse City Record-Eagle

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August 27, 2013

Father, children hid from authorities during Sleeping Bear escapade

GLEN ARBOR — An Orchard Lake man and his three minor children spent almost two days inside Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on a "camping" trip without food or water and deliberately hid from authorities who engaged in a massive search for them.

Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said the children -- ages 14, 10 and 9 -- emerged hungry, thirsty and covered in mosquito bites, but were in otherwise good health when located Monday evening after authorities spent 12 hours sifting through dunes and swamps near Glen Haven.

Their father, Daniel Gerard Elliott, 50, was arrested on an Emmet County misdemeanor domestic violence warrant and awaits arraignment in 90th District Court. Borkovich said the domestic violence incident Sunday led Elliott to embark on a hastily planned camping trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes to keep the children away from their mother.

"They went out in the woods and were out all night. Basically they were without food or water," Borkovich said. "The kids thought of it as a camping excursion. As did the father, believe it or not."

The situation started as Elliott, his wife and their children visited friends and family in the Petoskey area. Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin said deputies were dispatched Sunday about 10:30 a.m. to U.S. 131 on a domestic violence incident report after Elliott forced his wife out of the family vehicle.

"There was a physical confrontation between Mr. and Mrs. Elliott and she was left at the side of the road," Wallin said. "Mr. Elliott continued south and eventually ended up in Leelanau County."

The woman filed a missing persons report in Emmet County and expressed concern for her husband's mental state. A park ranger found the family's abandoned BMW on Monday about 7:20 a.m. near the Maritime Museum in Glen Haven and ran a license plate check that showed Elliott and the children were missing.

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