Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Police News

February 4, 2014

Dispatcher: I don't know how she stayed so calm

Abducted Michigan woman advised to leave convenience store restroom

LaGRANGE — Heather Lock’s shift had started at 10 p.m. Sunday. It was shaping up to be a slow night.

The LaGrange County 911 communications dispatcher had taken a phone call from a newspaper reporter. As per usual in the news business, the reporter asked if anything big was going on.

“‘Nope, our night’s been super quiet,’” Lock recalled saying.

The situation changed about an hour and 45 minutes into her shift.

That’s when Lock received a 911 call from Cheryl Van Wormer, who’d been abducted in her vehicle hours earlier in Michigan by convicted murderer Michael D. Elliot. Elliot had escaped from Ionia Correctional Facility. He was armed with a box cutter and a hammer.

Elliot and his captive had stopped at the Gallop convenience store north of Middlebury at Ind. 13 and C.R. 2. Elliot went inside to pay for gas. Van Wormer took a chance.

“I’m hostage to an escaped convict from Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Mich.,” she told Lock, according to a recording of the call.

“When the call came in, my caller was extremely calm,” Lock said during a press conference Tuesday at the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department. “I did not expect that intense of a situation was going to happen (given) the calmness of her voice.”

You’re being held hostage?, Lock asked the caller. Van Wormer confirmed that she was. Lock looked at her shift partner, Kelly Landers. This was serious.

Van Wormer began explaining to Lock what was going on.

“She said that the male subject (Elliot) was in the gas station paying for gas at the time,” Lock said. “She said that he didn’t realize she had a phone. He’d asked her earlier that night if she had a cell phone. She told him no. So she was being super-secretive with the phone.”

Lock said Van Wormer had no idea where she was at, other than she’d just arrived in Indiana off the Toll Road. She told Lock the name of the gas station where Elliot had stopped. Landers began calling around to other counties to find out if they had a gas station by that name.

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