Officer Jason Ellis’ Murder and Corruption In Nelson County, Kentucky

May 25, 2013. K-9 Officer Jason Ellis’ Watch came to a brutal end!

Many locals in the Nelson County area believe that Officer Jason Ellis was killed in cold-blooded murder because he was going after the drug dealers in the infamous area. He was a K-9 Officer who took on the local drug dealers in the community. You be the judge.

Kentucky for years has been one of the worst states for elder abuse, animal abuse, and child abuse. Add in the lowly rankings it regularly receives in education, socioeconomic development, infrastructure, governance, political corruption, and police corruption. 

Bardstown Police Department went through three Chiefs of Police in less than a year in 2017! That sends up “Red Flags” for several reasons in and of itself. 

A microcosm of such corruption and incompetence would be the town of Bardstown, Kentucky which calls itself a city but is in reality more like a small town. 

Bardstown, for those not in the local community, has been wracked with public corruption in its police force and city government for many years now and despite attempts to ferret out such corruption, it has come to naught. 

Several people in that community have turned up mysteriously dead with no repercussions to those who killed them and those in the know that probably know who committed the crimes against Jason Ellis, a police officer that was killed in 2013 in an ambush just a few short miles from Bardstown as he was heading home from his nightly shift at about midnight or thereabouts. 

Despite the efforts of the Kentucky State Police, no one has ever been found or convicted for the ambush and murder of Jason Ellis and his family deserves so much better. One of many theories out there is that he had upset someone that was involved in drug dealing and therefore was ambushed on the way home one night by some of the local drug dealers and good old boys in the community. 

With various other murders including a school teacher and daughter that was killed mysteriously and the death of Crystal Rogers and her father in 2015/2016, one has to ask the question what kind of vile scum and lowlifes would cover up such heinous crimes and not allow the justice to see the light of day in the local court system and local police. All the while their families have been victimized by their deaths and the murder charges that have never came to fruition to put their murderers behind bars. 

Crystal Rogers


My theory is that the reason that such crimes have not been prosecuted appropriately ties into Kentucky and the corrupt legal and justice system in that state and in the locality of Bardstown. All the while the Kentucky State police and other higher up food chain police agencies have even visited Bardstown and Nelson County and found nothing that would tell them of whom committed these heinous crimes. 

Would it happen to be that the Bardstown Police Department and the Nelson County, Kentucky Sheriffs Department would be assisting, aiding and abetting known murderers and criminals. All because of some vendetta because public servants know too much about the corruption and legal malfeasance that occurs in Bardstown as well as other neighboring communities. 

All the while these criminals in government are rumored to assist in drugs being planted in various communities and known officers have spent years harboring drug fugitives because its extra revenue for the corrupt court and legal system in said communities. 

Meanwhile, those murdered by the thugs and their accomplices are getting away with said crimes and drugs are being a ravage on local communities such as Bardstown. 

Though with all of the talk about the War on Drugs instituted by President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, the War On Drugs has been a largely failing enterprise as drugs have wracked small communities such as Bardstown and other areas of Kentucky. Because the truth is that the government doesn’t want to end the drug problems or at least minimize the damage from such. It helps out the court systems, pays for judges and police services, and so on. 

All the while people end up getting murdered in Kentucky towns such as Bardstown and nothing is ever done by the local officials and local mayors that are elected by the people of said communities. 

Justice will not be done by these people because they have a vested interest in keeping the drug trade flowing in places like Bardstown because they know that if it was shut off they would lose their cash cow. All the while factories and businesses wither on the vine and America becomes a “narco state” such as one would see in South America such as Peru, Colombia and other nations where the drug trade takes the place of honest businesses and economic progress. 

Bardstown officials are hiding something very serious especially with all of the corruption scandals that have plagued that community for the past several years but even going back decades when someone was allegedly killed by the police with no real reason other than just satisfying an extrajudicial vendetta where the person was shot to death by the police after having some run-ins with the local law enforcement. 

Bardstown, Kentucky


With all of the resignations of local police in Bardstown, Kentucky including a prominent retirement one has to wonder who is hiding what and who is covering up for the corrupt system. Now that local officials know and have known for years about said corruption what are they doing about it and what are they planning to bring those involved in these grisly murders to justice. 

The people and families of such murders and crimes against their person deserve so much better. Not a corrupt country town “good old boy government” that is covering up these crimes. Not a bunch of meaningless words from a bunch of small town cops and officials about how they actually cared about Mr. Ellis and all of the other victims of crimes against them because some of those people just knew too much about someone or something. 

The town received a bit of media attention in 2017, over the city council voting unanimously to prematurely remove Mayor John Royalty from office over his own rampant corruption.

John Royalty


Being a former cop who was fired from both the Lexington and Bardstown police departments prior to becoming Mayor, Royalty is unrepentant slime, abusing his authority and spying on co-workers, making thousands of dollars disappear while fighting to discontinue the local 911 dispatch over lack of funds, etc. It is imperative to note his association with the Lexington Police Department in particular. 

Royalty was hired as a Lexington police recruit on Oct. 27, 1986, and promoted to patrolman on Oct. 27, 1987. He was fired about four years later, effective Nov. 2, 1990, after he was found guilty on several counts by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council stemming from an incident in March that year where he got into an altercation with a restaurant patron while off duty and pulled a gun.

In January 1990, Royalty was also accused of using unnecessary force on a neighbor to a house where Royalty was responding to a domestic call.

According to the complaint, Royalty showed up at Doug Terry’s neighbors’ home after a family dispute had been resolved by other officers. When he pulled up, Royalty allegedly pulled a U-turn through Terry’s lawn and Terry opened his door and asked Royalty not to drive through his yard. Royalty allegedly responded by parking in front of Terry’s house, walking up and opening the door and asking, “Do you have a problem?” After Terry told him he didn’t appreciate his driving through his lawn, he said Royalty, standing about two inches from him, stuck his finger in his face and said, “Boy, you don’t want none of me,” and grabbed Terry’s shirt and ripped it.

After tearing the shirt, Royalty started to leave, but Terry followed asking him why he ripped his shirt, and Royalty “said disorderly conduct and slammed him down on the ground, put cuffs on him that were too tight.”

About two months after Terry filed his complaint, Royalty was off duty in a Hardee’s when he got into an argument with a patron and pulled his weapon between 1:45 and 2:30 a.m. on March 24, 1990.

Royalty was charged with two counts that encompassed improper conduct that rendered him “an unfit and improper person” for employment by the city, conduct unbecoming an officer, improper use of weapons, being intoxicated while off duty, mental incapacity or disability that rendered him incapable of properly performing his duties and incompetence.

The minutes also state that after an identification of a “pattern of complaints against Officer Royalty for improper conduct in dealing with the public, a psychological evaluation was performed.”

“The evaluation showed that Officer Royalty’s recurring inability to deal with the public results from a personality which is inappropriate for police work and is not subject to improvement through counseling.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported at the time that then Police Chief Larry Walsh testified that 14 complaints had been filed against Royalty during his four years on the force.

On July 1, 1991, Walsh signed a personnel order simply stating: “This is to advise the termination of Officer John R. Royalty retroactive to Nov. 1, 1990.”

A little more than three years later, Royalty was hired by the Bardstown Police Department, in December 1994. He was fired in August 1998 for violating the department’s policy on the use of deadly force stemming from an incident on May 24, 1998. He appealed that decision and sued the city for wrongful termination, taking it on appeal all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which upheld the dismissal.

One of his biggest projects in office has been a complete restructuring of the local police department, forcing virtually every senior officer to take an early retirement while promoting caricatures of honor-bound peacekeepers into positions of power. The thing is though, that Royalty is by no means a singularity when it comes to the local corruption, and while many voices in the community remain faithful to past leaders of Bardstown’s law enforcement, it has required every single police officer and several of the judges and city council-members themselves in this community of the last 2 or 3 decades to grow the cesspool so deeply. Just like anywhere else in America.


Cornbread Mafia Godfather, Johnny Boone.
Godfather of Grass.


The phrase “Cornbread Mafia” sounds like some quaint colloquialism, a jest by city-folk for mocking even the notion of organized crime in small town, USA. Unfortunately, the Cornbread Mafia is a very real thing. Originating directly from Bardstown in Nelson County, it grew rapidly over the course of the 1970s and 1980s into what federal prosecutors eventually described as the “largest domestic marijuana producing organization in the nation“, involving at least 29 farms branching out across a total of 10 different states. Cornbread was their code for marijuana, although the network incorporated a broad range of activities. There were elements that were merely small circles of cousins who would take turns growing marijuana for each other, for the fun and challenge of it, sharing the workload for the sake of participants never left with any need to buy from strangers. And at the other end of the spectrum were bikers and truckers and self-styled outlaws transporting drugs and weapons across state lines, everything for profit and with no qualms against dealing even the heaviest narcotics to otherwise peaceful communities.

In the late 1980s and especially the early 1990s, law enforcement finally cracked down, to the extent of FBI involvement leading helicopter raids with dozens of tons of marijuana confiscated at a time. Huge fields of crops were burned and land was re-appropriated, with the more violent outlaws from the network either getting killed or shipped off to prison. While the Cornbread Mafia was never fully eradicated, it was certainly crippled, and as far as outsiders are concerned what remained would eventually fade away to inconsequentiality. By no means however does the story end there.

Something that has never been publicly acknowledged was the eventual crossover well before the raids between the Cornbread Mafia and two distinct local groups. One was called Cornucopia, a mostly harmless New Age sect masquerading as a hippy commune whose membership came to the area in the early 1980s from all over the country. The other was called F-SPAN. Based in neighboring Marion County where the largest drug busts would later occur, F-SPAN could trace its foundations back to a UFO cult in the 1960s that formed with the purchase of a massive tract of densely-forested land, which had previously been owned by a single family through more than a century of generations prior. The Cornucopia group petered out before the major Cornbread Mafia arrests, but in its time brought to the table numerous out of state contacts for buyers and sellers. Once the Cornbread Mafia was seemingly destroyed, the more passive members of the network, the kindly old hippies who just wanted to grow their own for their family and friends, largely settled into the F-SPAN area with the property quietly evolving into a federally-recognized wildlife preserve.

In the later half of the 1990s, shortly after the dust had supposedly settled, Kentucky’s state government began to hike up taxes on tobacco. Many life-long farmers began covertly growing marijuana on the side to complement the escalating financial burdens on their end, because higher excise taxation meant higher pricing for farmers to pay upfront. Or at least, this was the rumor at the time to conceal the actual narrative. In spite of the Cornbread Mafia for the most part having ceased to exist roughly 25 years ago, crime rates throughout Nelson and surrounding counties in general and in Bardstown especially have skyrocketed, with the drug problems today particularly dwarfing bygone eras.

As with everything else in Kentucky, all of these things are related. 

Being a setting so rich in history, Bardstown is filled with historians, and along with that comes the tendency to idealize the past. There are those in the community greatly troubled by any suggestion of the town being less than ideal, much less the full breadth of corruption I am here charging. Yet there are many more among the local population who know these points of mine to be painfully self-evident, living alongside the consequences as they do. The Cornbread Mafia never ended.

When the last of the big drug busts was made and official charges filed, regional law enforcement consisting of the Bardstown Police Department and officers from the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and the Kentucky State Police saw a good thing. They inserted themselves atop the food chain, and in the two-plus decades since have served and protected as the inner circle responsible for the bulk of the drug-trafficking in the area. The local street ruffians calling themselves the Big Money Gang, or BMG, love to insinuate their own roles in the scheme are larger than truth permits, but in reality they are small town junkies who have watched entirely too much television. The BMG are nothing more than bottom-feeders, heavily exploited by the police as foot soldiers and where convenient, as scapegoats.

In more recent years, denizens have suffered the effects of a civil war among the law enforcement community itself, with those who profited the most in their long careers nearing retirement despite an unwillingness to part from the profitable drug trade, while a generally younger, more abruptly thuggish crop which includes John Royalty pushes for a bigger piece of the pie.

The death of hero cop Jason Ellis was the first of several high-profile murders that remain unsolved, with so much evidence pointing to his fellow brothers in blue that even the state police dropped their official investigation a year later, with no explanation provided to the public. At the time Ellis was the only K9 officer in Bardstown, but almost four years later the department now employs four K9 units, signifying that either Ellis was a better cop than he is sometimes given credit for, or the drug-related crimes have surged embarrassingly beyond the normal resources of a small town police department’s capabilities. The accepted logic is that Ellis, who had joined the Bardstown police only a few years prior, was unwilling to play dirty.


Mother and daughter Kathy and Samantha Netherland were found viciously murdered in their own home, their deaths still a mystery unresolved. The standing theory is that either the popular teacher or her preteen child was witness to something atrocious, which followed them home for silencing. Some locals suggest their landlord at the time was a braggadocios landowner named Brooks Houck, although the house has changed hands multiple times since the double homicide.

A former candidate for sheriff and notorious philanderer, Houck later made national headlines for his own girlfriend Crystal Rogers vanishing from off the face of the Earth. Detectives easily found cause to confiscate the patrol car of patrolman Nicholas Houck, younger brother of Brooks. There was enough evidence to remove him from the Bardstown police department, but neither brother has been charged with anything. The Houck family farm was not even searched by authorities until over a year after Crystal’s disappearance, with no rational explanation provided for that either. The people of Bardstown know why though, just as I know for a fact that 5 of the laborers hired by Brooks for maintenance of his rental properties in the last couple of years by total happenstance hold records for both possession and selling of narcotics. Yet more recyclable pawns.

Crystal Rogers


Since these tragic, infuriating events the yards of Bardstown had been decorated with signs reading PRAYERS FOR CRYSTAL’S SAFE RETURN, and the more blunt SOLVE THESE MURDERS, until late last year when Mayor Royalty tastelessly ordered for one and all to be taken down. Because they were hurting the feelings of a police force either too laughably inadequate to perform their hired functions or completely complicit in the murders themselves. And alongside this travesty, the father of Crystal Rogers was himself shot and killed in a “hunting” accident, naturally with no suspect arrested. The fact of his becoming a fierce advocate for police accountability since the loss of his daughter was one heck of a coincidence.

I see all of this as a growing trend however. Not necessarily good old boys like Brooks Houck getting assistance from the local police to avoid the embarrassment of incarceration, but the ineffectiveness of police in general. I do not believe that crime rates are irregularly increasing nationwide, but rather police are choosing to hold back from performing the full extent of their hired functions as public servants. Then, when communities are presented with such occurrences as even “lil Bardstown” has faced and is facing, occurrences such as domestic abuse, bank robberies, meth labs, unsolved murders and missing persons, then those in such communities may prove all the more eager to accept prospects of a police department possessing flamethrowers and grenade launchers. Willfully lazy and/or corrupt policemen enabling crime statistics to air, as excuse for further militarization and expanded powers. I sincerely believe this is precisely what is happening all around the country right now.

There are justifications to believe that law enforcement at both the state and federal levels are fully aware of what law enforcement in Bardstown have done and will continue to do, covering for one another the way that any other gang would. What are the concerned peoples in and around town to do when the highest authorities either deny that such corruption exists, or are playing active parts in the corruption themselves, or both?

When virtually every encounter with these public servants regardless of circumstance ends in harassment, robbery, assault, rape and/or murder? Or having a flash grenade thrown into your living-room after the police already have their suspect in custody, an action which did not prevent officer McKenzie Mattingly from later being promoted to interim police chief.

More than a decade earlier, he made the national news for shooting an unarmed black teen to death, which resulted merely in a reassignment to a new precinct. More recently, Mattingly helped himself to a tax-payer’s trailer, while serving as acting police chief of Bardstown, a crime which Mayor Royalty chuckled at. It is just absolutely impossible to discern whether Mattingly has dirt on Royalty, or Royalty has dirt on Mattingly.

Mattingly’s recent stint on loan to neighboring Hardin county to help develop their drug task force was nothing greater than an effort to spread the franchise, teaching his simian brothers in blue how they too can be the kingpins of their local drug scene.

To this day his alibi for the night of the Ellis murder cannot be corroborated by anybody that he doesn’t snort pills with, such as the infamous local crackhead Bruce Lawrence.

Of the countless many who have experienced pleasantries committed by the bullies with badges, who watches the watchmen? Who “Polices the Police”?

We all do, boys. And some of us are not intimidated by you. Neither will we stop till we find the person(s) responsible for slaying Officer Jason Ellis!

Be sure to watch our video below about Officer Ellis and the corruption in Nelson County!

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