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UNSOLVED: A decade later, still no answers in Bardstown police officer’s murder

Jason Ellis was killed on May 25, 2013 in an apparent ambush shooting. His death is among Kentucky's most high-profile investigations.

Joseph Garcia, Shay McAlister

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Published: 5:54 PM EDT May 24, 2023
Updated: 6:16 PM EDT May 24, 2023

It’s been ten years since a Bardstown police officer was killed in an apparent ambush.

Jason Ellis, 33, was shot and killed on May 25, 2013. His death remains unsolved, according to investigators.

Former Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin says he couldn't have imagined there would still be no answers so many years later. He remembers getting the call from Nelson County Dispatch on the night Ellis died like it was yesterday.

Ellis had just finished working a shift with the Bardstown Police Department and was on his way home when he saw something unusual: branches blocking an exit ramp off the Bluegrass Parkway.

It was well past midnight, nearly 3 a.m., and despite having just signed off for the night, Ellis pulled over to clear the debris and ensure future drivers were safe.

As he worked to remove the branches, someone shot the Bardstown officer several times, fatally wounding him.

"I just remember lifting the tape and seeing Jason and thinking what in the hell happened here?" McCubbin said. "I put my hand on his knee and I had my moment I guess. I was hurt, I was upset, I was mad, I cried a little bit. And I just said 'Jason, we'll figure this out.'"


Investigators determined that Ellis had been ambushed – saying his killer strategically placed the tree limbs on the road to lure him out of his patrol car.

Another driver later found Ellis’ body and patrol car in the middle of the road.

His murder prompted an investigation that remains ongoing a decade later.

The FBI has a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for Ellis’ death.

Last year, a memorial honoring Ellis was vandalized. The community quickly stepped up to replace the memorial. No arrests have been made in the incident, police said.

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