BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Amy Ellis has now been a widow for a year and her two boys fatherless. Someone took her husband, Officer Jason Ellis' life on May 25, 2013. That someone is still out there.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Spring has flourished into summer; summer has given into the cool, crisp air of fall; and winter blustered in with heavy snowfall, laying a clean canvas on the Bluegrass Parkway. But it can't clear the slate of mystery that looms.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Officer Ellis was ambushed on May 25, 2013, just after calling off duty for the night. He was clearing debris from the roadway off of Exit 34 when he was shot to death. His case is still unsolved and police say they need your help.
BATAVIA, Ohio – Denny and Pam Ellis were so proud to welcomed their first and only son, Jason, into their small family in September 1979, in Batavia, Ohio. He would eventually graduate from Glen Este High School in Union Twp., in 1998.
BATAVIA, Ohio – A player for the Cincinnati Reds farm team and longtime Ohio resident, Officer Jason Ellis was close to his sisters Lacey Young and Kelly Eastmann, who along with their mother remain in the Clermont County area.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – He would grow to make his parents proud, first as catcher on the Glen Este High School baseball team, where he wore the No. 5 jersey, and eventually as a minor league player for the Cincinnati Reds organization.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Ellis played ball at the University of the Cumberlands, snagging the record with 246 hits. “Jason told me early in our relationship that his dreams were to have a family and play baseball, or go into law enforcement," Amy said.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – With a population of 14,000, in the heart of bourbon country, it's a town that knows its residents, listens to its elders and respects its lawmen. Jason Ellis joined the police force in 2006.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Named 'Most Beautiful Small Town in America' and tucked between Louisville and Lexington, sits Ky.’s second oldest city--a town of How y’all doin', friendly handshakes and warm smiles. "It's a postcard town." Chief McCubbin said.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Amy Phillips met Jason Ellis on Valentine’s Day 2001 at a mutual friend’s home while they were both college students. “He was everything I wanted and prayed for, that was Jason … an amazing, amazing person,’’ she said.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Married in October 2004 at St. John United Church of Christ in Louisville, Ky., “Pachelbel's Canon in D Major” played as Amy walked down the aisle, to become Jason's wife. “When the doors opened,” she said, “I only saw him smiling.”
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Amy found out she was pregnant in November 2004, just a month after they were married. Hunter, now 8, was born July 27, 2005 with Down syndrome—just two week after Jason left baseball.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – “Jason told me early in our relationship that his dreams were to have a family and play baseball, or go into law enforcement,’ Amy Ellis, his widow, above, said.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – In 2002, after passing the KSP exam, Ellis signed with Reds' minor league team and played for the Mustangs in Sarasota, Fla. In 2005, he left the game, just before his first son, Hunter, was born. He would later coach his sons' team.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – "That was his job, we were his life," Amy Ellis, above with Jason and two sons Parker and Hunter, said of her late husband's strong family values.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Family portraits from 2011 show a happy foursome in the quaint, rural setting of Nelson County. Two years later, those smiles would dissipate with Officer Jason Ellis' abrupt and "unprovoked", according to Chief McCubbin, death.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Amy and Jason Ellis, above, in his new Jeep Wrangler on May 20, 2013, just five days prior to his death.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Jason Ellis joined the Bardstown Police Dept., a force of 27, in 2006 and just two years later was named the department’s sole canine officer. He received the Governor’s Award for Impaired Driving Enforcement on 2007 and 2008.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – About 10 minutes down the parkway, Ellis took Exit 34 on May 25, 2013. He followed the exit, around a sharp, slow incline, between two rocky cliffs, full of blooming greenery, before stopping to move branches out of the roadway.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – At least one person was waiting amid the blooming lavender flowers atop the embankment; waiting for Officer Ellis' cruiser to make the turn onto Exit 34, before they shot him and left him to die in this spot on the moonlit pavement.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Police believe the assailant who shot and killed Officer Jason Ellis in the early morning hours of May 25, 2013, was perched atop the cliff alongside the edge of Exit 34's ramp off of the Bluegrass Highway.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Gunfire reverberated from each side of the exit’s excavated high walls, above, as another shot was fired at the fallen officer, dropping him to the pavement on Exit 34.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Police respond immediately and by daybreak, Exit 34, where Officer Jason Ellis laid, was crawling with a sea investigators and emergency personnel, wrapped with deliberately placed yellow crime scene tape on May 25, 2013.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Ellis' canine partner, Figo, attended the funeral and laid his paw on the top of the flag-draped casket amid more than 1,000 law enforcement officers from across Kentucky and the nation.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – More than 1,000 law enforcement officers from across Kentucky and the nation attended Jason Ellis' nearly 20-mile procession.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – An intricately detailed tombstone marks the grave of Jason Ellis at High View Cemetery, amdist tobacco and corn fields.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – “Waking up and knowing he’s not here. Going to bed, knowing he’s not here” are the hardest moments to get through she says. “I want to be able to pick up my phone and call him and I can’t,” Amy Ellis said of missing Jason.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – “I miss him so much and it’s unbearable,” Amy Ellis said, who only has his gravestone, above, to visit.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Ellis was buried near the home where his widow and sons still live.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – “Anyone willing to murder a police officer, someone who protects the community, then what are they willing to do to the general public?” said Lt. Jeremy Thompson Detective, Kentucky State Police.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Nearly seven feet tall, the headstone, located at Highview Cemetery in Chaplin, Ky., highlights his sons' handprints, a Reds emblem, an etching of his family, and bookended with an American flag and a Thin Blue Line flag.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – A state representative from Bardstown has filed a bill to rename the 13-mile stretch of the Bluegrass Pkwy., after Ellis. There have been motorcycle poker runs, and marathons and many other fundraisers.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – A year later, they wait for answers, some still fearful, as frustrated investigators wait for someone to talk. Meanwhile, Ellis’ fellow officers on Bardstown Police Department cannot forget their fallen brother and friend.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – "We could not have made it this far without the tremendous help from God and the support of everyone around us. Please continue to remember us as we continue trying to put the pieces of our shattered lives together," Amy Ellis said.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Investigators hoped that the nearly $225,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect would entice someone to come forward. But a year later, they are still hoping.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – A year has passed since Bardstown Officer Jason Ellis, and Batavia native, was ambushed just after calling off from duty, but for some May 25, 2013 has stood still. Above, storefronts in Bardstown remember Ellis during the holidays.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Investigators say they believe someone in the community knows what happened. That’s what Amy Ellis is banking on, too. “I pray the power of conviction to lay heavy on someone... we need that, not closure, just answers,” she said.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – The Bardstown Police Department retired Figo, Ellis' K-9 partner, who now lives with Ellis’s widow and their two boys.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Someone knows something about what happened on May 25, 2013 to Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis, and his family, Amy, Parker and Hunter, above, prays that the 'power of conviction lays heavy' on someone who has information.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – “I miss him so much and it’s unbearable,” Amy Ellis said. “It’s a nightmare I have to live with for the rest of my life.”
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Officer Jason Ellis' uniform was tranformed into a teddy bear keepsake, above, for his family.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – "I want to thank the community for the unending love, support and prayers that has been poured on our family... the past year. I can remember when I thought I couldn’t make it through my next breath let alone a year," Amy Ellis said.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Amy Ellis is living with a reality that was her worst nightmare, the thing she feared every night Jason was working the streets of Bardstown, Ky.--a place that use to make her feel safe--has come true.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – For a town that once lined the streets with thin blue line flags, like the one above, honoring Ellis, American flags are all that’s left, somberly waving in the gentle, southern breeze.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Flyers, like the one above, were once on every light post, every pole, each storefront... a year later, signs that still exist are weathered, faded and fleeting by the day, as are the leads police are investigating.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Tips are drying up, leads are lessening, and all that remains at the scene where Officer Jason Ellis lay dying on May 25, 2013, are momentos and tributes to his service.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Clues have withered away with the seasons, leaving behind only the memory of the horrific early morning hours on Exit 34 on May 25, 2013.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Lining the interior of the Bardstown Police station is an entire wall memoralizing their fallen brother, Officer Jason Ellis' life and death, who was ambushed on May 25, 2013. The case is still unsolved.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – While the FBI is assisting, the KSP remains the lead investigators. They have sifted through thousands of leads, conducted hundreds of interviews, reconstructed the scene and investigated Ellis' cases from the past six years.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Without warning, spring has sprung again in Bardstown, Ky. The town buzz is alive with regrowth and life. But there’s one life lost that still lingers, weighing heavy on the minds of this town.
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – For a town that once lined the streets with 'Thin Blue Line' flags honoring and remembering Officer Jason Ellis, all that remains are a handful of faded “Fallen Hero” signs in storefronts, their tape wearing thin.