Inside A Reporter’s Notebook

The Roger Ellison case has haunted me for much of my journalistic career. How does a small town boy living a seemingly normal life vanish into thin air? Had he simply walked away or was he leading a double life. What secret did this teenage boy possess that might have gotten him killed. The year was 1981. Cops say Ellison boarded a school bus that took him to Cedaredge High School. He got off the bus and walked to his metal locker, No. 191 in the school’s basement. He put his books away while chatting with friends. That’s where the trail grows cold.

Welcome to The purpose of this blog is to spark interest in a cold case that dates back nearly 30 years. Someone out there knows what happened. Please come forward with what you know. Even if you think it’s insignificant, it might be the missing link that finally cracks the case. Share your theories, tips and anything else you wish to contribute. This case needs to be solved. Help crack a cold case and get justice for Roger.



Cold Case Timeline

February 10, 1981: Roger Ellison, 17, boarded a school bus bound for Cedaredge High School. He got off the bus and walked to his locker, No. 191 in the school’s basement, and put his books away while chatting with friends. He was never seen again. On the day he disappeared, Roger was reportedly seen talking to two unidentified men. Cedaredge is located in western Colorado at the foot of Grand Mesa National Forest on Highway 65.                                                                                                                             dsc_0157-edited-2-sepia

An FBI report described Roger as a “straight arrow” despite his alleged marijuana use. The report goes on to describe an incident in 1979 where another school acquaintance “threatened to kill” Roger over his dating a certain girl. The incident was cast aside, saying “it was highly unlikely the threat was carried out after two years without some additional confrontation.”

July 1981: An $8,000 reward is offered by Roger’s parents, Ernest and Evelyn Ellison, to anyone with information that will help solve the case of their missing son. Ernest died a few months after Roger’s disappearance, apparently overcome with grief. Sources close to the family say Ernest spent his last six months waiting for the bright yellow school bus to bring back his son. Prior to her death, Roger’s mother Evelyn begged authorities to take a closer look at the possible link between Roger and John Pash, a Cedaredge High School social studies teacher and wrestling coach who has since relocated to California. She said Pash went to her home after her son’s disappearance and told the family that Roger was suicidal, something Pash had never mentioned before. Pash also allegedly counseled Roger at his home next door to the school.

After Roger’s disappearance in 1981, fliers were distributed by the thousands all over the country, with one eventually making its way to the Missing Children Help Center in Tampa, Florida. The activity sheet attached to the Ellison case file showed five unconfirmed sightings since 1985. Two of those reported sightings came on the same day – April 7, 1994. That was the day Ellison was featured on the “Sally Jesse Raphael Show,” a nationally syndicated talk show broadcast to millions of people worldwide. Documents show both calls came from Grand Junction after two separate callers thought they recognized Roger from his picture on television. One went so far as to say “she thought it looked like a friend of her brother’s.” The information was passed on to Delta County investigators and Roger’s family. The lead didn’t pan out.

Roger was an honor student with a perfect attendance record. He was also a gifted athlete and a member of the Powderhorn Racing Club. He regularly participated in weekend ski meets hoping to attain “A” level racer status in the United States Ski Association which would open the door to more competitive regional ski races. At the time of his disappearance, Roger had posted the entry fee for a ski race in Aspen but failed to show up for the race. Records also show he had been accepted at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado and put a deposit down on a dorm room. He left behind a bank account with $1,000 in it, his skis, car and a motorcycle.

March 1994: A tip sparks an intensive underground search of the former Pash residence located next door to the old Cedaredge High School. An eyewitness told police he saw Pash digging in his yard. When questioned by the eyewitness, Pash reportedly said he was transplanting roses. The eyewitness thought that was a bit odd because it was the wrong time of year to be gardening. A NecroSearch team specializing in locating clandestine graves dug up several sections of the yard but found no human remains.

June 1998: A dying man hoping to clear his conscience tells investigators with the Delta County Sheriff’s Department that he knows what happened to Roger Ellison. According to the man’s account, he and a friend were poaching deer in a wooded area northwest of Cedaredge in early spring of 1981 when they came upon a young man whose hands were bound by white cord and being held at gunpoint by another man. One of the eyewitnesses, who picked Ellison out of a photo lineup, reported hearing two gunshots several minutes after the pair left the area. The two men made a pact to never talk about what they saw and erased it from their memories. The dying man passed a polygraph test. His friend also came forward and corroborated his story.

September 1998: A handful of investigators from various law enforcement agencies along with members of an anthropology class from Western State College in Gunnison searched the heavily wooded area northwest of Cedaredge for Ellison’s remains. The search turned up no new clues in the case.

2005: A team of cold case investigators reviewed the Roger Ellison case.

August 2008: A member of Websleuths, an online crime sleuthing community, makes a startling discovery prompting this post to the website:


The poster, who goes by the screen name Intuition, stumbled upon a case on the Doe Network with striking similarities to Roger’s case. The Doe Network is a volunteer organization that assists law enforcement in solving cold cases. The website has a searchable database containing information on unexplained disappearances and unidentified victims. Case File 1107UMCO contains information on an unidentified white male whose skeletal remains were found in September of 1981 in Chaffee County, Colorado. The John Doe is estimated to be about 17 years old, approximately 5’6” tall and weighing 136 pounds. According to the case history, the victim was located on September 10, 1981 in a wooded area near Clear Creek in northern Chaffee County. More bones were found in 1986 in the same general area and a pathologist ruled they were probably from the same person. There were also three cartridge shell casings found near the second set of bones. Scraps of clothing found nearby consisted of a pair of blue jeans, a green corduroy shirt and a T-shirt.  The photo on the left is a reconstruction of the unidentified John Doe; the photo on the right is Roger Ellison at age 17. Investigators are looking at a possible link between the two cases. A positive identification has not been made. 


                                1107umco19     roger-ellison-photo-3-crop8


February 10, 2009: The case remains unsolved.