22 Aug 2014
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Emergency Services Commended For Murder-Suicide Response

Authorities say they don't know what may have caused an 82-year-old resident to kill his wife, then himself last week

Emergency Services Commended For Murder-Suicide Response Emergency Services Commended For Murder-Suicide Response

Though the incident was “tragic,” Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet said last week’s response of the township’s emergency services to the “cannot pass without mention.”

Last week, residents Harry Ellis, 82, and his wife Barbara Ellis, 79, were found shot to death in their Polo Lane home. Laforet issued a formal commendation Wednesday of the township’s emergency response to the murder-suicide.

“Throughout the morning I observed a highly trained, Nationally Accredited certified , whose officers acted in concert without a missed step, along with OEM, , Mahwah CERT, and and numerous County resources,” Laforet said in the commendation.

“What I observed on behalf of our community, was impressive. The conduct and execution of the coordination of a complicated crime scene was impressive and cannot go without mention,” he said.

Laforet thanked the emergency service responders in Mahwah for their handling of the tragedy, and said he echoed the “community’s appreciation and heartfelt thanks for the work you do every day, which sometimes goes unnoticed.”

Emergency responders arrived at the Ellis’s home last Friday after police received a phone call form their daughter saying her father had just called her to say that he had killed her mother, and was about to kill himself, Police Chief James Batelli said. Responders found Barbara Ellis inside the home’s office, and Harry Ellis in the backyard, he said. Both suffering from gunshot wounds, they were transported to Good Samaritan in Suffern, where they were later pronounced dead.

As of this week, Batelli said investigators “do not have a definitive motive for the Mr. Ellis’ actions.” Investigations have revealed no suicide note, financial troubles, or history of disturbances, he said. There is also no evidence that the couple fought before the shootings, Batelli said.

Though his wife was in good health, police say Harry Ellis suffered from Parkinson’s. “It would be presumptive of us to say the Parkinson’s disease was the cause of his actions absent more specific information and evidence,” Batelli said this week.

“The motive that drove Mr. Ellis to kill his wife and then shoot himself may never be truly known,” he said.


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