January 14, 2013 in City

Ellensburg police reopen 1972 cold case

 

The only unsolved murder case in Ellensburg history has lingered on the books for four decades. Now police say they’ve reopened their investigation.

The mystery began one night in early October 1972 when local pharmacist Louis Bellessa, 51, failed to return home from his downtown pharmacy on North Pearl Street. When his wife called police, they went to the pharmacy and discovered Bellessa’s body. He had been shot twice in the head, according to a 1972 story in the Ellensburg Daily Record.

Police also found an undetermined amount of money and pharmaceuticals missing from the store, according to the newspaper.

Serious crime then, as now, remains rare in Ellensburg. The 1972 newspaper article indicated Bellessa’s death was the first homicide in the city since 1951. No suspect was ever charged. But Ellensburg police Capt. Dan Hansberry said renewed interest from a local resident researching the case has led police to follow up on some new information.

“Unfortunately most of the witnesses are now deceased, but we have developed new investigative leads,” Hansberry said.

The Ellensburg resident and former local educator who has been researching and discussing the case with police, Steve Hall, did not respond to requests for comment.

Hansberry said investigators have put in about 100 hours on the case since the beginning of December. He said they have traveled as far as Southern Oregon and Northern California to interview people in connection with the death.

So far the investigation hasn’t yielded any groundbreaking information, Hansberry said, but officers are encouraged by what they’re learning. The investigation may also take officers to locations in the Midwest region of the country, he said.

“Our hope is there is someone still alive connected with this death,” Hansberry said. “We’re still trying to wade through all the information.”

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