Select It Sunday: Roger John Ellison

Selected by Michael W.: Roger Ellison, a seventeen-year-old senior who vanished from Cedaredge, Colorado on February 10, 1981. (I should have done this last Sunday. My apologies.)

Although many kids disappear en route to or from school, it seems very few of them actually disappear on the school campus itself. Roger did: he definitely made it to school that day, and was sighted putting stuff in his locker in the morning, but never attended class.

His case is classified as a non-family abduction and police believe he was killed shortly after he went missing. And there is someone the cops have in mind, a person of interest.

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25 thoughts on “Select It Sunday: Roger John Ellison

  1. michael August 21, 2016 / 6:18 am

    Thank you for mentioning this, no need to apologize, though it looks like is middle name is John and not Dale.

    Wow, so much to say about this case. I had noticed too, that not too many kids go missing from the actual school itself. Perhaps coincidentally, another one of those cases was Dean Marie Peters, who went missing from her Grand Rapids, Michigan school (about an hours drive from where I live) literally a few days before Roger. That case too has all sorts of weirdness connected to it.

    For me, there are many memorable cases on here, but I’d have to say this one sticks with me perhaps more than any other. On one hand, voluntarily disappearance seems unlikely because why would a kid leave behind a car, a motorcycle, prized skis (all forms of transportation), not to mention $1,000 in his bank account (which was a heck of a lot more back then, it’s still a sizable amount for a 17 year old) and other things?. But then, foul play seems unlikely also. How could John Pash, or anyone for that matter, kill him on or near the school grounds and nobody sees or hears anything? I suppose they could have lured him off campus, but Pash’s house was right next door, and he had a wife and two children. Would he really stick around for 3 years if he did this? What would they have done with the body?

    Pash is such a character. I could go either way on him. I could totally understand if he wasn’t involved, I could totally understand if he was. As some of you may know, Pash has several ramblings on the case available on another site. Most of it has little to do with Roger and is focused on bad-mouthing internet sleuthies and the (then) citizens of Cederedge. There is, perhaps, one interesting tidbit from Pash, although you have to take it was a grain of salt. He claims that a clue to Roger’s disappearance (he believes it was voluntary) came in the form of a school assignment, which he nearly forgotten about, and handed over to investigators. He claims that two of Roger’s answers in a psychology class assignment dealing with association (like the Rorsach tests), were very shocking.

    Now if all that wasn’t enough, a few weeks ago, something in my brain told me to start researching this case again. Literally the next day, I went to work at the hotel i work at it and one of my tasks is to make sure everyone has a registration card printed and in the correct place. I noticed one for somebody in….Cedaredge, Colorado. My jaw literally dropped. Cederedge is such a small town and so far away from Michigan that the coincidence was uncanny. I found online that famous true crime author and blogger Michelle McNamara had posted about the case as she too was intrigued by it. She mysteriously died four months ago and they still haven’t determined a cause of death. She was the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt. Her death didn’t attract much attention, perhaps largely in part because Prince died the same day. She was the most frequent interviewee on the wonderful “A Crime To Remember: program.

    But the story gets weirder. Some places on the net state that two poachers stumbled upon Roger outdoors. He was tried to a tree and there was a man standing next to him, pointing a gun to his head. The poachers never said anything to the police because they were illegally hunting and didn’t want to get in trouble for it, although one of them supposedly made a deathbed confession, but that’s a little out there.

    A friend of mine informed that there have been at least 4 eyewitness sightings of Roger since he vanished, Two of these were reported in the mid 90’s, well over a decade after his disappearance, after his case was profiled on a famous talk show (though for the life of me, I can’t remember which show right now.)

    Whew. Such a baffling and intriguing case, anxious to hear what others have to say about it.

    • Meaghan August 21, 2016 / 8:26 am

      Fixed the middle name mistake. I feel like a doofus.

    • Meaghan August 21, 2016 / 8:48 am

      I suppose if Mr. Pash shows up here I will let him speak. I don’t have anything to say to him but I welcome discussion in these comments.

      I wonder, if Roger was murdered, why? If we’re looking at a teacher than an obvious answer springs to mind, but it’s not the only possible answer.

  2. Melissa Kent August 21, 2016 / 7:00 am

    His parents died without ever finding out what happened to him. So sad.

  3. LB August 21, 2016 / 8:40 am

    It doesn’t sound like the lead about Roger’s SS# being used in another state was followed up.

    There’s nothing that credibly links Pash to Roger’s disappearance. There were a lot of rumors that were floated around about Pash after Roger disappeared, and it seems like much of the suspicion about him arose from those rumors and his political leanings. If you’re repeatedly accused of murder and other unsubstantiated claims by random people on the internet, you’d probably feel frustrated and angry too. The testimony by the dying poacher sounded like bull as well, although I don’t discount that the man had a guilty conscience about a homicide he was involved in, while being careful to claim that he witness rather than one of the perpetrators.

    • Meaghan August 21, 2016 / 8:52 am

      I agree re: the hunter’s story, it sounds very unlikely to me.

  4. michael August 21, 2016 / 9:06 am

    Pash has stated he has voted for both Republicans and Democrats, though he did paint Cederedge as extremely backwards to the point that they viewed computers as evil and also ran arcade games out of town. Don’t know about now, but apparently it was extremely conservative back then.

    There’s also some debate as to what Pash taught there. He says he taught history and psychology, though he wasn’t a trained psychiatrist or psychologist and stayed one step ahead of the students in terms of subject matter. He says the qualifications for being allowed to teach a certain subject were lenient, which does happen.

    There are all sorts of rumors, both on the net and that circulated in Cederedge after he vanished. Rumors of drug parties and orgies with minors and adults at Pash’s house. But again, if all that was going on, could Pash get away with it? His house was right next to the school.

    And then there is Roger himself. Some say he was popular, and he’s quite good-looking from his photos. Others say he was quieter, with a smaller circle of friends, didn’t have a steady girlfriend, and was something of a homebody.

    So many things on this case…I don’t know what to believe.

    I agree with LB that Pash would have a reason to be upset if he were innocent.

    Apparently, most citizens of Cederedge hated Pash. They put dead skunks in his car and what not. Basically ran him out of town.

    • Meaghan August 21, 2016 / 5:46 pm

      My dad taught geology at Ohio State University for two terms. He is not a geologist, he’s a botanist. Dad teaches at a small branch campus of OSU and their only geologist went on sabbatical and they needed someone to teach his course and Dad drew the short straw. First term was a nightmare trying to stay one textbook chapter ahead of everyone else.

      If that happens at a respectable university (the branch campuses of OSU are meant to be equivalent to the main campus at Columbus and each other; there are no formal transfers between them), I can TOTALLY see it happening at a HS.

    • Lauren August 24, 2016 / 11:04 pm

      At my high school there was someone who taught history and psychology but had no psychology background what so ever. They were really there to coach football. This was much more recently than this case too.

  5. Dave Schwartz August 21, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    Just one correction… his name is Roger John Ellison

    • Meaghan August 21, 2016 / 5:42 pm

      Yeah I fixed that. Dunno why I wrote Dale at first instead.

      • Dave Schwartz August 22, 2016 / 12:40 am

        Sorry, didn’t for you to get beaten up over that! You may want to consider the case of Michael Jefferson Adams of Abeline TX. He disappeared in 1987 I think. Also a weird set of circumstances.
        His mother died last year, never knowing what happened, his father is still alive, but close on 90 I think, would be nice to have some closure for him. The backstory after he disappeared is strange as well. One suspect was to be questioned by the police and drowned on a rafting trip the day before.

  6. michael August 22, 2016 / 4:46 am

    Dave Schwartz, you must have read my mind, Michael Adams happens to be one of my other huge “pet” cases. Have you seen the “missing: reward” segment about it on youtube? Lots of additional info there. His family used to have a website for him, which went defunct some years ago, but I was able to go into the wayback machine and retrieve a lot of pertinent info through the internet archives. You are correct, this was in 1987. His dad seems so nice. I believe he has a really high number of brothers and sisters as well.

    Anyways, back to Roger, his father died literally a few months after his disappearance, and the family said it was because of a broken heart. He used to go out every afternoon when school ended and waited for the bus, hoping Roger would step off, but never did. Very, very sad. Roger has 3 brothers and a sister, the sister was also a champion skier.

    Pash stated he frequently stepped in and involved himself when kids were being bullied, the victims of racism or beaten at home.Like most things with this case, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was false. A person’s opinion on Pash may rest with who they believe. If they believe Pash, he was something near a saint. If they believe the local rumor mill, he was a creep who “sold the best marijuana in town.”

    One theory I read suggests that Pash killed Roger somewhere on the school grounds and waited until classes were over, then transported his body elsewhere after hours. A part of my brain wonders if Roger could have had an accident at the school (a la Wade Steffey) and his body never found, but that doesn’t seem terribly likely.

    I wonder what it was that was troubling Roger. It was said he was acting differently in the months preceding his disappearance. Pash has suggested he has an idea what this was and that it caused him to voluntarily vanish. I think there was *something* going on, but what?

    I’ve been talking to my sister about this case.

  7. michael August 22, 2016 / 5:05 am

    aha, according to my friend Bobby from Florida, the sightings were mentioned on an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael on April 7, 1994. Here is what he says:

    Roger Ellison, missing from Colorado since 1981, is featured on the show. Two different callers from Colorado’s Grand Junction area notified authorities and said they recognized Roger after seeing his photo on the broadcast. One woman even went so far as to say Roger looked like a friend of her brother’s. Both calls came in the same day the show aired. These calls were two of only five unconfirmed sightings of him since 1985. The calls never panned out and Roger is still missing to this day.

    • Michael August 25, 2016 / 5:32 pm

      Eyewitness accounts are almost always wrong. When I do investigations on missing persons, unless the person previously knew the person, I pretty much discount that they recognized it from the picture. These people have the best of intentions, and a small amount of them want so badly to please others that they insert themselves into the case but provide very little usable evidence. After much research on Roger, I think we have three theories: suicide, the creepy teacher, or a serial killer in the area. Colorado had a lot of disappearces from 1984-1986 and all of them very suspicious. (Harvey, Jonelle Matthews, etc). I also think they need to confirm he disappeared during the school day. That would eliminate the teacher as a suspect. It’s pretty hard to take a body out of a school. A drug overdose is also a possibility.

      • michael August 26, 2016 / 12:54 am

        Well you must be a different Michael, maybe I just starting signing my posts with Michael W. to avoid confusion.

        I do agree that most eyewitness accounts are wrong, but that can even apply to people that knew the person. Take Cherrie Ann Mahan for example. Her own relative saw her afterwards, but I doubt that it was legit since she’s been missing for 30+ years.

        It’s already been confirmed he disappeared during the school day. He was witnessed at his locker, but didn’t attend any classes that day.

        Pash can’t be cleared just because Roger disappeared during the school day. He could have killed Roger, hid his body somewhere, then came back after hours and moved the body. As a teacher, he probably would have had access to the building.

      • Michael G August 26, 2016 / 12:21 pm

        I heard there was some talk of him being abducted from the basement and was seen being led in the woods with his hands tied by another man with a gun. I dont think it was a suicide, but a serial killer in the area, and I think his remains are very close to the school.

  8. Tracey Reitterer August 22, 2016 / 7:46 am

    Does anyone know why police decided not to dig under Pash’s garage floor?? Maybe Roger’s been there all this time.

    • Meaghan August 22, 2016 / 8:06 am

      I don’t know. My guess is that they didn’t think they could justify the expense, equipment, etc. “Anomalies” are often just that — anomalies. It doesn’t necessarily mean a body or anything else is buried there.

  9. michael August 22, 2016 / 8:32 am

    Meghan is correct. I remember hearing somebody had made the statement that the shape of a teenager’s body was one of the “anomalies” and Pash correctly countered with something to the effect of ‘How would they be able to tell if it was an adult or a teenager?’

    Pash did admit to doing some digging in the yard, but said it was to add or replace rosebushes.

    In any event, I suppose Pash could have buried him there, but gah, burying him in his yard would be incredibly stupid since they would certainly arrest him if he was discovered there. Not to mention, the area this happened in was home to, I think, places like a forest and there certainly would have been better places to hide a body if one didn’t want it to be found easily.

    • Meaghan August 22, 2016 / 8:38 am

      Yeah, burying a body in your own yard is penny wise and pound foolish. It’s more convenient, but if and when they find it they’ll be looking straight at you.

      Michael and I were once talking about this and I brought up the idea of burying a body in the next-door neighbor’s yard. If your neighbor was the super oblivious type who never went in their backyard or whatever, you might be able to do it without the grave being discovered. The proximity offers convenience, and if the police suspect you were involved in the person’s disappearance of course they’d only be searching YOUR yard.

      Still taking a big risk though. My advice is to just not murder people.

  10. michael w. August 26, 2016 / 5:08 pm

    @Michael G: Where did you hear that? I think it’s unlikely that someone could have walked into the school (where there are hundreds of people), and lead him out without anyone seeing anything.

    Of course, this was back in the days when schools had more lax security measures, so it is possible, just not terribly likely IMO. .

    • Michael G August 27, 2016 / 5:14 pm

      I remember one of the investigators mentioning it to me a very long time ago. I think it was a witness who saw something or claimed to have seen something, but I dont remember if it was before he disappeared or they deemed it not credible, it was so long ago, so that part I dont remember, but I remember hearing bound hands and being held either at gun or knifepoint. Something also that he was in the basement of the school as well. Remember Ted Bundy kidnapped at least 3 girls from their school in broad daylight

      • michael w. August 28, 2016 / 5:44 am

        Wow, that is something. Michael G., can you please e-mail me, I need to talk to you. My e-mail is michaeljwise@live.com. Thanks.

  11. Rob in Michigan October 20, 2016 / 2:47 am

    I just saw Roger on the “Have you seen me” paper that grocery flyers come wrapped around in the mail. It struck me because I was born the same year. Been reading about his story online the past few hours. Wow, very strange. I also read Pash’s long internet posting. Are the names of the 2 hunters public? Is the other one still alive? I wonder if the one was not just an eye-witness, but was actually confessing to murder. Weren’t there reports of Roger being seen talking to two older men prior to disappearing?

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