BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) – It is a beautiful spring morning and Amy Ellis is standing in front of the Bardstown Police Department, recalling the most painful moment of her life.
Two years ago, her husband, 33-year-old Jason Ellis, was shot multiple times in the early morning hours of May 25 when he stopped on his way home from work to clear debris from the road on Exit Ramp 34 of the Bluegrass Parkway outside the city limits in Nelson County.
"It has been two years since our family was devastated by this senseless ambush of my husband Jason, a dedicated law enforcement officer who spent his life in service to others," says Ellis in a new video released by the Kentucky State Police on Friday that will be blasted out throughout the country in a social media campaign via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
"Time cannot close our wound," she says. "We cannot heal without knowing who and why he was taken from us by this senseless murder. We struggle with need to understand before the healing can truly begin."
It's an open wound that is felt by his two surviving sons, Hunter and Parker, as well as the 27 officers who remain in this tiny city of approximately 12,000 that has been named one of the most beautiful small towns in America.
Officer Michael Medley was among the first to reach Ellis on that cool morning that still featured a very bright full moon that illuminated the dark roadway. Medley and fellow officer Andrew Riley arrived at about the same time after hearing a passerby shout into Ellis' police radio that an officer was down.[AUDIO: CALLS FOR HELP FOR OFFICER JASON ELLIS]
"It doesn't seem like it was two years ago, it seems like it was just yesterday," Medley said as he recently stood at the makeshift memorial on the Exit 34 off-ramp, recalling the moments leading up to discovering Ellis' body on the road and the two years of sadness and anxiety that has followed.
"I miss him every single day," said Medley, a soft-spoken officer who looks down when talking about the times he and Ellis spent together – both on the streets and off. "There are days or times when things come up and remind me of him instantly. I still find myself wanting to call him. I don't know if that will ever go away."
Medley recalled returning to his beat about a week after Ellis was murdered. He and Ellis worked together on the same shift nearly every day. He last talked to him around 10 p.m. on May 24, 2013.
"It was so hard to come back, you were constantly looking over your shoulder because you weren't sure if there was some sort of threat," he said. "That, and Jason was no longer there. It's still hard to come to work some days. It's incredibly hard to move on because you don't know who is responsible and why."
The off-ramp where Ellis was killed is covered in American flags and a cross, bearing the name and the badge number of the fallen officer across the front. There are teddy bears and baseballs, too – a tribute to Ellis' time as a baseball player that had ultimately led to him playing three years with the Cincinnati Reds minor league team in Montana.
More than 1,000 police officers from around the country honored the fallen officer during his burial at Highview Cemetery. In a heartbreaking moment during the ceremony, Ellis's K9, Figo, touched his casket. The cemetery now sits silent.
Ellis's headstone is decorated with the hand prints of his two sons and the sport of baseball.
The pain felt by the officers left behind is something Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin knows well. He too has suffered from sleepless nights and anxiety-filled days as he has tirelessly searched for Ellis' killer.
"To the person who knows something, I wish they would come forward," McCubbin told WDRB News on Thursday. "I am not even talking to the person who pulled the trigger. I am talking to the person who drove the car, or the person who noticed that a loved one was missing that night or felt something was odd. You hold the vital link to helping us solve this. We know that the person who pulled the trigger will not come forward, so now we must put some attention on the other people who know what happened that night."
It's a numbing pain that is also felt with troopers and investigators at Elizabethtown post of the Kentucky State Police – the agency that has taken the lead in the Ellis murder investigation, with an assist from the Louisville FBI office.
"This was a cowardly act and it will take some courage for someone to come forward," said Lt. Jeremy Thompson. "I still feel firmly that an arrest will be made on this case. We get information daily and we look into each and every tip that we receive, we just haven't received that piece of information that we need in order to move forward."
Thompson said KSP is hoping the video release of Amy Ellis' message will encourage anyone who may have information about the case to contact authorities. The reward funds for this case have reached $185,000 for tips leading to an arrest and conviction.
"It is very unusual to have a reward amount this high," Thompson said. "And for nothing valuable to come out of that with such a large amount of money out there is odd. Be we have not given up hope."
That is why the focus is no longer on pleading with the shooter or shooters to come forward.
It's also why Amy Ellis is issuing her very public plea, despite the emptiness of her heartbreak.
"This crime is still unsolved and someone, somewhere can come forward," she says. "Someone can help us move on in Jason's absence and someone have a part in seeing that this tragedy will not happen to others. Do not hide in the dark shadows any longer. Have the courage to help end this horror and show that justice can prevail."
Anyone can submit tips by contacting the KSP Elizabethtown Post at (270) 766-5078 or call the toll-free KSP Tip Line at (800) 222-5555. An email address has also been established for tips at EllisCaseETips@ky.gov. You can also text a tip confidentially using a cell phone. Simply text the tip to 67283, type KSPTIP in the message field, leave a space and enter your tip information.
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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