RED LODGE, Mont. − The Carbon County Sheriff's Office is looking for information about a Wisconsin Rapids man whose remains were found in Montana 28 years after he went missing and was recently identified.
Rogers "Roger" Lee Ellis was 22 years old in 1976 when he told his family he was heading West because he didn't want to go to jail. Ellis, who was born in Wisconsin Rapids in 1954, faced legal issues related to an arrest for marijuana possession, according to the Carbon County Sheriff's Office.
On June 20, 2004, a hiker found a human skull about 15 miles south of Red Lodge. Montana, off U.S. 212 in Carbon County, Montana, according to the Sheriff's Office. Officers responded with search teams and found additional skeletonized remains. Forensic analysis determined the remains were of a man between the ages of 15 and 32. Analysts entered DNA from the remains into a nationwide system, but they did not find a match.
This year, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the Missoula County (Montana) Sheriff's Office Cold Case team, the Carbon County Sheriff's Office initiated a genetic genealogy investigation to use new developments in DNA science to identify the remains as Ellis, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Officials believe Ellis was hitchhiking when he left Wisconsin in December 1976. They suspect the person or people he was traveling with killed Ellis, left his body in Montana and continued on their way, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The Carbon County Sheriff's Office identified Ellis after 18 years of his being listed as a "John Doe," but they do not intend for their efforts to stop there. The department is launching a cold case homicide investigation to identify the person or people who killed Ellis. The investigation will rely on information from people who knew Ellis in the 1970s. The Carbon County Sheriff's Office asks for anyone with information to contact Carbon County Sheriff's Office Detective Mahoney at 406-445-7284 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Carbon County Sheriff's Office is working with detectives in Wisconsin and neighboring jurisdictions to try and find additional information about Ellis and any of his friends or associates in 1976, as well as identifying any other similar cases in the region during that time frame that may help identify those responsible for ending Ellis' life.
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This article originally appeared on Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune: Remains of Wisconsin Rapids man missing for 46 years found