Skeletal remains found in Montana belong to Rapids native
Investigators believe the man was homicide victim
FOR CITY TIMES
RED LODGE, MT — A skull, femur and pelvic bone found by a hiker in Montana 18 years ago are those of a Wisconsin Rapids man who went missing 46 years ago, and who authorities say was murdered.
According to a news release from the Carbon County Sheriff’s and Coroner’s Office – and issued locally by the Wood County Sheriff’s Department – the human remains belong to Rogers “Roger” Lee Ellis, who was born in Wisconsin Rapids in 1954.
The remains were discovered by a hiker on June 20, 2004 approximately 15 miles south of Red Lodge, MT, off U.S. Highway 212 in Carbon County. Initial forensic analysis determined the bones came from the same individual, and belonged to a man between the ages of 15 and 32.
With assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case team, the Carbon County Sheriff’s and Coroner’s office initiated a genetic genealogy investigation to leverage new advancements in DNA science. The skeletal evidence was sent to Othram’s lab in The Woodlands, TX, where scientists used forensic-grade genome sequencing to build a comprehensive DNA profile to identify the remains as belonging to Ellis.
Investigators also believe Ellis was on the run from a drug-possession charge, and the victim of homicide along the way.
Ellis was facing legal troubles stemming from an arrest for possession of marijuana. According to investigators, Ellis didn’t want to go to jail, so he headed west. Ellis had no further contact with his family from that point.
Investigators also believe Ellis was hitchhiking when he left Wisconsin in December, 1976, and suspect he was killed by the person or persons with whom he was travelling, and they left his body in Montana before continuing on their way.
Carbon County is now launching a cold-case homicide investigation to identify whoever might be responsible for the death of Roger Lee Ellis. Investigators say a successful case will rely on information from those who knew Ellis in the 1970’s, and they’re asking those individuals to come forward to help identify the perpetrator or perpetrators. Anyone with information related to this case should contact Det. Mahoney at the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, at 406-445-7284 or [email protected].