Sleeping Bear manhunt dad offers plea to assault, battery charge

The man who was taken into custody after an all-day search at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore appeared in court shirtless and unwilling to speak.

A Detroit-area man whose late-summer trip to a national park in northern Lower Michigan with his children sparked a 12-hour manhunt has pleaded to assault and battery.

Emmet County District Court Administrator Lisa Smith says Daniel Elliott offered a no contest plea Monday to the misdemeanor charge. The 50-year-old Orchard Lake resident's no contest plea isn't an admission of guilt but will be treated that way at sentencing.

He had been charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.

Elliott's wife called 911 at 10:35 a.m. on August 25. According to the Leelanau County Sheriff, Elliott's wife said she was forced out of the family car by her husband and he drove off with the children. She filed a missing person report a short time after because she said she was concerned for the welfare of her children "because of her husband's mental state." She did not, however, believe he would hurt them.

Elliott took the kids to the dunes and spent the day without water, food, or camping equipment. Rescue teams eventually found them and took Elliott into custody.

According to Smith, no sentencing date has been sent.