I’ve been wanting to write about this case since I first got this blog up and running, and when I saw that it was in the news again this week, I decided it was the perfect opportunity. When I first heard about the murder of Bardstown police officer Jason Ellis, my heart literally hurt. I couldn’t help but think of my own dad, who is a retired police captain in the suburbs of Chicago, and all the times I spent worrying about him on the job when I was younger. Being a police officer certainly isn’t easy, and it’s one of the most dangerous jobs you can possibly have.
On May 25 2013, at about 2 AM, K9 Officer Jason Ellis was on his way home from work when he stopped to remove a large tree branch that was in the middle of the road. He was immediately ambushed as he exited his vehicle, and was shot multiple times with a shotgun. He never removed his gun from his holster.
Police Chief Rick McCubbin has told reporters that Jason was targeted, and that he believes Jason’s murder was premeditated. His killer or killers intentionally placed the tree branch in the roadway to prompt the 33-year-old officer to get out of his vehicle.
About two weeks after Jason’s death, the Bardstown Police Department received a letter in the mail, threatening that more officers “would go down like the first one.” The letter was addressed to Chief McCubbin and was immediately sent off to the FBI for processing. The next day, Chief McCubbin received a phone call from someone claiming to be aware of a verbal threat someone made against Bardstown police. The threat was very similar to what had been said in the letter.
Despite the threats, Chief McCubbin insisted that his department wouldn’t slow down.
“Our patrol officers are still out covering beats and making those runs. We are not going to do our job in fear. We’re not going to retreat in any way,” he told reporters.
After his death, Jason’s canine partner, Figo, was retired and given to his wife and two young sons, ages 6 and 7. You might recognize Figo in the picture below. It was taken at Jason’s funeral and made the rounds online a few months ago.
Bardstown is a rather small town outside of Louisville, Kentucky, with a population of about 12,000 people. It seems that the community has really rallied around their police department, as well as the Ellis family. Local businesses and community members have stepped up and organized fundraisers and donation collections, all to benefit Jason’s family.
It doesn’t sound like the police have been able to make much progress in the case, which is heart-breaking. The FBI announced this week that they are adding another $50,000 to the reward money, bringing the total to $218,000 for any info leading to the arrest of whoever murdered Jason.
Police have set up a private email address that you can email with any tips – EllisCaseEtips@ky.gov.
UPDATE: 5/25/16 1 PM CST
I wish this update was an update about how this case has been solved but sadly, it has been three years now and no arrest. There is an update, however, on Jason’s K9 partner, Figo.
“The still unsolved crime has devastated his family and his department, including his K-9 partner, Figo. Figo, 10, now lives with Kris Phillips, Ellis’ mother-in-law. From time to time she brings the aging German Shepherd, now struggling with arthritis, to visit officers at the Bardstown Police Department. Their latest trip was Tuesday afternoon.
Phillips says Figo is always eager to return and happy to see familiar faces, but seems to be looking for one in particular.
“While he has adjusted to his retirement he knows life’s different and I think he’s always looking (for Ellis). He’s sad,” she said.”
– Police: Officer fatal shooting ‘premeditated’
– Ky. PD Receives Threats After Slaying of Officer
– FBI Announces Up to $50K Reward in Officer Death
– Exclusive: 3 years after Officer Jason Ellis’ death, K-9 Figo still ‘looking’ for partner