Rogers “Roger” Lee Ellis identified in Montana Cold Case

Rogers "Roger" Lee Ellis

Rogers “Roger” Lee Ellis. Carbon County, Montana, deputies released three pictures that show what he may have looked like when he died. This one shows him as clean shaven.

who kills Rogers “Roger” Lee Ellis? That’s the question investigators are asking after finally identifying human remains in a decades-old case.

Fearful of going to prison over a marijuana case, Ellis left his home state of Wisconsin only to end up dead in Carbon County, Montana, authorities say. Now the investigators want to speak to everyone who knew him in the 1970s. They hope to get information that will point them to the perpetrator or perpetrators.

“CCSO is working with detectives in Wisconsin and neighboring jurisdictions to attempt to identify additional information about Ellis and all of his friends and associates in 1976, as well as any other similar cases in the area during that time period that might help identify the.” to identify those responsible for the end of the life of this young man,” said the deputies. “Attached are drawings of what Ellis might have looked like at the time of his death.”

Rogers "Roger" Lee Ellis

Rogers “Roger” Lee Ellis. Carbon County, Montana, deputies released three pictures that show what he may have looked like when he died. The one on the left shows him with a mustache. The one on the right also shows him with a beard.

The case landed on the sheriff’s office’s radar in 2004 with a disturbing discovery. A hiker found Ellis’ skull. From there, investigators found his thigh and pelvic bones. Although authorities were able to submit his DNA to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), searches for Ellis’ identity ultimately did not match any relative.

“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,” the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office said. “Law enforcement responded with search teams and recovered additional skeletal remains (a femur and a pelvic bone). Subsequent forensic analysis determined the bones were from the same individual and showed they belonged to a male (between the ages of 15 and 32), but there was no match for a relative donor.”

That year saw a breakthrough. The deputies received help from the US Department of Justice, the FBI, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Team and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System to initiate a genetic genealogical study.

“The skeletal evidence was sent to Othram’s lab in The Woodlands, Texas,” lawmakers said. “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.”

They determined that the remains belonged to Ellis.

The young man came from Wisconsin and was born in 1954 in Wisconsin Rapids. He was arrested in 1976 for alleged possession of marijuana. He told the family he didn’t want to go to prison and was going west. From there he no longer had any contact with relatives, MPs said.

“We believe that Ellis hitchhiked out of Wisconsin in December 1976,” lawmakers said. “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.”

Now the deputies must find out who killed Ellis. They call on everyone who knew him in the 1970s for help.

“This investigation will be based on information from those who knew Ellis in the 1970s, and we would appreciate if you would come forward to help identify the perpetrator or perpetrators,” they said.

The deputies are asking that anyone with information contact the sheriff’s office or Detective Mahoney at (406) 445-7284 or [email protected]

[Images via Carbon County Sheriff’s Office]

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