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Memorial marks five years since Ellis murder

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Slaying still unsolved

By Kacie Goode

For Amy Ellis, it feels like a lifetime ago — like it was someone else’s life derailed by murder. But it also feels like yesterday. Friday marked five years since her husband, Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis, was shot and killed in an ambush on his way home from work.

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Dozens of law enforcement officers from Bardstown, Louisville and surrounding areas as well as family and friends of Ellis gathered at Highview Cemetery for a morning memorial service and returned Friday evening for a candlelit prayer vigil.

The Rev. Tom Mobley opened the morning ceremony saying, while time has passed, it seems each year is the same.

“We come back remembering a horrible crime that we can’t explain,” Mobley said. “We still wrestle with that word ‘why.’ We still are trying to find the right words to say, as we did five years ago.”

In the early morning of May 25, 2013, Officer Ellis was on his way home from work when he exited the Bluegrass Parkway at Bloomfield Road and stopped to clear away some brush blocking the Exit 34 ramp. When he got out of his car to remove the hazard, a gunman took his life. Investigators have said the killing was an ambush, and the murder remains unsolved today, though police are still seeking information from anyone who may have seen or heard something that day.

Among those who spoke during the memorial service were Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton and Bardstown Police Chief Kim Kraeszig.

“We need to continue to celebrate his life and the difference he made in all of us,” Heaton said, recalling when Ellis was first hired with the department’s K-9 unit. “It was evident that Jason wanted to make a difference in our lives, and that carried over into his personal life as he coached our youth, was involved in his community and was a great husband, father and friend to many.”

Kraeszig, who joined the department as chief just last year, remembered attending Ellis’ funeral. She had never met him, but respected him.

“I mourned that day as if I had known him for a lifetime,” Kraeszig said. “I had no idea that I would be standing here as the chief of the very department and community that he gave his life for. I can tell you that there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at his picture or think of Jason Ellis,” and she will work to keep his memory alive.

As she did at an event earlier this month unveiling a fallen officer monument outside the Nelson County Justice Center, on which Jason’s name is listed, Amy Ellis shared her struggle with the community. Her voice cracked with emotion and she stifled sobs as she recalled having to tell their two children Daddy wasn’t coming home.

“I was completely exhausted and struggling to survive every day between the fear, the interrogations and the overwhelming grief of losing my best friend,” she said. “Amongst all the chaos, I had to start planning my 33-year-old husband’s funeral while coming to grips with the reality that all of our hopes and dreams had been taken from me. The life that Jason and I had planned was gone.”

Before he was an officer, Jason Ellis was a standout baseball player who set school records at what is now known as the University of the Cumberlands and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds’ farm program. He coached youth sports in his community and loved serving others. He was devoted to his job and to his family. He loved camping, fishing, going to theme parks and hunting with his boys. He was a father, husband, son, brother and friend.

“It is important to all of us who loved him that he isn’t remembered just for being an officer killed in the line of duty, but that he is remembered for the life he lived and the way he served others,” Amy said.