I made the call Wednesday.
When I talked to KSP Post 4 Public Affairs Officer Scotty Sharpe in Elizabethtown on Wednesday the conversation went much the same as it did around this time last year. We talked briefly about the lack of new developments surrounding one of his own.
May 25, marks seven years since Bardstown Police officer Jason Ellis was murdered, seven years without answers. No arrests have been made.
Ellis was from Ohio. His wife was from my hometown and the two settled back there after graduating from Cumberland College.
Sharpe said the case was still active and being investigated daily although there had not been any new updates since last year.
“We continue to get leads and we pursue everything that comes in,” Sharpe said.
I asked him if the recent, popular podcast "Bardstown" that investigated five unsolved murders in Nelson County impacted the case. He said those working the case didn’t see any uptick in tips but he did get a lot of comments that people had listened to it.
My editors and I listened to the podcast, we bought shirts that say "Solve these murders," I’ve watched multiple news station clips on it and when my mammaw was alive, we too discussed Ellis and the murder. I’ve read a dozen newspaper articles on the incident. Every time I pass by the Bluegrass Parkway and every May I wonder where the truth is buried.
The Greater Cincinnati Police Museum's website has done a thorough job of describing the events of May 2013. In honor of a life gone too soon and in the hope of justice, let's demand answers and never forget.
From the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum:
Jason joined the Bardstown Police Department as a police officer in 2006. In less than three years, Officer Ellis received Governor’s Awards for Impaired Driving Enforcement in 2007 and 2008 and was awarded Officer of the Year in 2008. He also became the Department’s only canine officer in 2008 when he partnered up with a German Shepard, Figo. He further served his community as a youth baseball coach.
At 1:59 a.m. on May 25, 2013, after a late arrest and having put his prisoner in the Bardstown jail, Officer Ellis secured his tour of duty on second shift and headed home to Bloomfield. He did not have Figo with him at the time and was operating a pool car. As such, he did not have a camera mounted on the dash.
About 2:30 a.m., as he left the Blue Grass Highway on Exit 34, he found the ramp blocked with tree limbs. He turned on his overhead lights, turned the patrol car to block the ramp, and began clearing the limbs. With several cradled in his arms, shotgun blasts rang out from the embankment. Pellets tore into Officer Ellis’s arm, side, neck, head, and other areas not protected by his ballistic vest. He fell to the ground, among the limbs he was carrying.
Soon afterwards, a woman drove her Toyota off the highway and up to the patrol car. She stopped and waited. At 2:36 a.m., Chad Monroe, a distillery worker, came up behind the Corolla, got out, spoke to the woman, and then went to help the officer pick up limbs. When he saw Officer Ellis on the ground in a pool of blood, he ran back and told the driver of the Corolla to call the police and then went back to render whatever aid he could. At 2:40 a.m., the woman entered Officer Ellis’s cruiser and called for help on his radio, reporting that the officer had been involved in an accident and she thought he was dead.
Kentucky State Trooper Mike Garyantes responded and determined that he had been shot. Nelson County Coroner Rayfield Houghlin later said Ellis was shot “multiple times” with a 12-gauge shotgun. His service weapon was still in its holster. About 11 a.m., fifty cars from multiple agencies escorted his body from the scene to the Kentucky Medical Examiner in the Jefferson County Government Building in Louisville, Kentucky and the Kentucky State.
Kentucky State Police conducted, and continue to conduct the investigation into his death. Initially, investigators believe Officer Ellis, while on his way home, stopped to assist a motorist and was murdered. By then end of May 25th, it was ascertained that the trajectory of the bullets placed the shooter on a hill above the exit. It was then believed that Ellis stopped to move debris from the roadway and was “ambushed,” the coroner’s office said.
By May 29, 2013, then Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubben went public with, “We believe that he was the target,” McCubbin said, because “this was methodical, precise, planned and executed in a perfect fashion, unfortunately.” The debris that Officer Ellis removed was tree limbs from a tree not indigenous to the area, so it was likely brought there for the purpose of setting up the ambush.
On June 2, 2013 Jeff Ruby, the owner of multiple high-end restaurants, posted a $33,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Officer Ellis’s murderer. That posting brought the total to $100,000. By November 2017, the total reward had elevated to $200,000.
By June 18, 2013, with still no solid evidence to go on, Kentucky State Police established an email hotline, EllisCaseEtips@ky.gov, set up at KSP Post 4 for any information regarding the incident, tree trimmings in Nelson County, etc.
As of January 2014, the reward for identifying Officer Ellis’s murderer has grown to a quarter of a million dollars.
May the answers to this investigation arise and justice ring loud.
Remembering this officer, his family and my hometown this week, this month and always.