The following is a press release from the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office:
RED LODGE, Mont. – “On June 20, 2004, a hiker discovered a human skull about 15 miles south of Red Lodge, Montana off US Highway 212 in Carbon County. Law enforcement responded with search teams and recovered more skeletal remains (a femur and a pelvis). Subsequent forensic analysis determined that the bones came from the same individual, showing they belonged to a man between the ages of 15 and 32), but there was no match for a relative donor.
In 2022, the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, with support from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Team, initiated a genetic genealogical survey to identify new Developments in DNA harness science. The skeletal evidence was sent to Othram’s lab in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to create a comprehensive DNA profile from the skeletal remains, and this DNA profile was returned to investigators, who used the profile in a genealogical search. This investigation led to the identification of the remains as those of Rogers “Roger” Lee Ellis, who was born in 1954 in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. The investigation revealed that in 1976 Ellis faced legal troubles related to a marijuana possession arrest. Ellis told his family he didn’t want to go to jail and was going west. Ellis had no further contact with his family.
We believe Ellis was hitchhiking when he left Wisconsin in December 1976. We suspect he was killed by the person or persons he was traveling with and they abandoned his body in Montana and continued on their way.
CCSO is proud of the successful investigation that led to the identification of Ellis after being listed as John Doe for 18 years, but our efforts don’t end there. We launch a cold murder investigation to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators who took Rogers Ellis’ life. This investigation is based on information from those who knew Ellis in the 1970’s and we would appreciate if you would come forward to help identify the perpetrator or perpetrators.
CCSO is working with detectives in Wisconsin and neighboring jurisdictions to try to identify additional information about Ellis and all friends and associates in 1976, as well as other similar cases in the area during that time frame, that could help identify those responsible for the termination to identify the young man’s life. Attached are drawings of what Ellis might have looked like at the time of his death.
Anyone with information regarding this case should contact the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Mahoney 406-445-7284 or [email protected]”