DELTA - After following up on tips from alleged eye witnesses to the disappearance of a Cedaredge High School student 17 years ago, authorities are no closer to solving the mystery.

The Delta County Sheriff's Office declined to release witnesses' names for fear of rumors circulating through the small town of Cedaredge.

Roger Ellison, who was 18 at the time of his disappearance, has been missing since early spring of 1981.

"He went to school one morning, put his books in his locker, never to be seen again," said Delta County Sheriff Bill Blair.

Since the case opened, the Cedaredge Police Department and several detectives at the DCSO have worked on finding the teen, Blair said.

"Various detectives have worked with it," he said. "The previous sheriff and I have worked on it."

Blair was a detective with the sheriff's office when Ellison first disappeared. The Cedaredge Police Department originally headed the investigation, and the DCSO picked up the case when there was a report of Ellison hitchhiking with a backpack in the county.

Although both Ellison's parents have passed away and there is not an organized effort pressing officials to solve the case, Blair said he vowed to Ellison's mother before she died that he would be diligent in his pursuit of solving this mystery.

"The mother and father are gone, and I really made a commitment to the mother before she died that as long as I was sheriff I'd work on the case," he said. "The father died, I think of a broken heart."

After searching an area northwest of Cedaredge last week where two witnesses reported seeing Roger Ellison and a man with a gun after Ellison vanished, the sheriff's department did not turn up any evidence. After 18 years, DCSO lead investigator Dave Duncan speculated predators may have scattered Ellison's bones over a great distance.

In a missing person case two years ago involving Grand Junction resident Jason Stone, who was lost in a blizzard while hunting on the Grand Mesa, sheriff's department officials found skeletal remains "scattered all over. Even after one winter Jason was spread all over the place," Duncan said. "Eighteen years after Roger disappeared, what's the chance of finding anything?"

Of the two men who came forward with information last week, one said he was dying and wanted to clear his conscience. The witness gave a description of a man they allegedly saw with Ellison. They said Ellison had his hands tied and was being held at gun point.

Duncan said although the man whom witnesses described no longer lives in the area, he knows exactly where the man is. There had been rumors circulating previously that this person was involved in Ellison's disappearance, Blair said, but they have never been verified.

"There have been rumors out there the person may have played a role but it has never been proven other than a lot of people pointing fingers," he said.

Ed Marah of Cedaredge was police chief at the time of Ellison's disappearance.

The police department at that time followed a lead that Ellison may have been buried at Taylor Funeral Home, but the lead turned up no evidence.

Marah said the Cedaredge community would like to see the case solved.

"Everyone would like to see it solved," he said. "It's 18 years old now, about as old as he was when he was last seen."

Blair said he has the feeling there are people who have information on the case and have not come forward.

"There are people out there that know and won't come forward," he said. "There are people in the community who have some knowledge about what happened."

Anyone who has information about Ellison's disappearance is encouraged to call the Delta County Sheriff's Office at 874-2000, or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 874-8810.

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