Jason Ellis was extremely close with his mother, Neatrice Billingsley. So when the 20-year-old suddenly stopped answering her phone calls in December 2006, his mother knew something was wrong. After more than a week without any word from Jason, Neatrice was concerned enough that she decided to drive to his home to check up on him.

Jason had moved out of the family’s home in Merrillville, Indiana, several months before and was living with friends in Indianapolis, Indiana, but he called home frequently to speak to Neatrice. His last phone call had been on Sunday, December 3, 2006. His roommates, two of his friends from his high school days in Merrillville, had been out of town at the time so he had the townhouse to himself. Jason had seemed to be his usual cheerful self and his mother hadn’t sensed that anything was wrong during the phone call; she had no idea that she would never speak to her son again.

When Jason’s roommates arrived home a few days later, Jason wasn’t there. At first, they weren’t concerned; Jason had a habit of returning to Merrillville for a few days whenever he had any time off from work and they assumed that he would be back soon. They were surprised when Neatrice called looking for her son; they told her they thought he had gone to visit her.

By December 11, 2006, Neatrice was convinced that something was terribly wrong and made the 3-hour drive from Merrillville to Indianapolis to see if she could find her son. She was shocked to find his car parked outside of his townhouse; she knew there was no way Jason would have gone anywhere without his car.

What Neatrice found inside her son’s room was even more concerning. All of his belongings appeared to have been left behind; the only thing that was missing was the comforter from his bed. Frightened, Neatrice called the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and reported Jason missing.

If Neatrice had thought that the police would jump into action to help her find her son, she was sorely disappointed. Jason was an adult, and investigators told her that he was free to go missing if he wanted to. They took a brief look around his room and found no overt signs of foul play; the room was neat and there was no blood or signs of a struggle. Although Neatrice pointed out that her son’s missing comforter likely indicated foul play, investigators shrugged it off. They told her that Jason had likely gone away with friends for a while and would probably be back soon.

Jason’s loved ones knew that he wouldn’t have gone anywhere without letting his mother know where he was going to be. He hadn’t told anyone at work that he was going away, he had simply stopped showing up. His last two paychecks, which were deposited directly into his bank account, were untouched.

Neatrice realized that if she wanted her son found, it was up to her to find him. The heartbroken mother launched her own search for him, combing through the streets surrounding his townhouse. She peered into garbage cans and dumpsters with a sense of dread, wanting to find her son yet not wanting to find him dead.

Desperate to find her son, Neatrice made missing posters and hung them up throughout the Indianapolis area. She reached out to several local newspapers, begging them to write an article about Jason’s disappearance, but none of them were interested.

In 2008, Jason’s case found its way onto the desk of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Detective Charles Gold. Unlike those who had handled the case before, Gold believed that Jason had likely been murdered. For the first time, Neatrice had an ally. Gold promised her that he would do everything he could to find her son.

It was a difficult investigation from the start. Jason had been missing for almost two years before Gold was assigned to the case, and the initial investigators hadn’t made any real attempts at determining what had happened to the missing man. Gold interviewed Jason’s family and friends in Merrillville but didn’t come up with any solid leads.

Gold tried to interview people Jason had been associated with during his brief time in Indianapolis but found that many of them didn’t want to talk to him. Many simply refused to answer his repeated knocks on their door, while others would open their door only to tell Gold that he would have to talk to their attorney. It was unclear if they were refusing to cooperate because they were involved in Jason’s disappearance or if they simply didn’t like police.

By 2010, Neatrice just wanted answers. She no longer cared if the person responsible for Jason’s disappearance was ever held accountable; she just wanted to know where her son was. She was certain Jason had been murdered and told a reporter that she had a message for the killer. “If you can live with what you’ve done, the Almighty God can take care of the rest of it. It’s not about vengeance. I simply want to know what happened to my child.”

Detective Gold continued trying to find the answers Neatrice wanted, but admitted that the only way the case was likely to be solved was if Jason’s body was found or if the killer came forward and confessed to police. Unfortunately, neither of these has happened.

Neatrice died in 2013 after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage, and many believed the stress of her son’s disappearance was ultimately responsible for her death. Gold told a reporter, “She was an awesome lady.” He was heartbroken that he hadn’t been able to find Jason for her before she died, but hoped she was finally at peace. “They’re together now. Maybe. Hopefully. I would like to think in my mind they are.”

Jason Ellis was 20 years old when he went missing in 2006. Investigators believe that he was most likely murdered but have been unable to locate his body; until they do, a slim chance remains that he is still alive somewhere. Jason has brown eyes and black hair, and at the time of his disappearance, he was 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 160 pounds. He has a chipped front tooth and both of his ears are pierced. He has “Neatrice” tattooed on his chest, a maple leaf and his name tattooed on his right arm, and the cartoon characters Scrappy Doo and Scooby Doo tattooed on his left arm. If you have any information about Jason, please contact the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at 317–327–6984.

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