Distinctive tattoos helped the Port Townsend Police Department identify a female body that came ashore here Dec. 28 as that of Melissa Christine Ellis, 31, a missing person from Oak Harbor.
Ellis, a mother of three, was last seen on Nov. 25, 2011, after telling family members she was going to Coupeville and then to the beach, said Det. Sgt. Teri Gardner of Oak Harbor Police Department. Ellis suffered from periodic memory lapses, Gardner said.
“I’ve been in contact with the family since the beginning, and they are absolutely devastated,” Gardner said.
A beach near Coupeville on Whidbey Island would be across Admiralty Inlet from Port Townsend Bay.
Ellis had a picture of her two oldest children tattooed on her left shoulder, an alpha omega tattoo below her right ear and a koi fish with a lotus flower tattooed on her right wrist, all of which helped police identify her body. The tattoos on the body were compared to physical descriptions in regional missing-person reports. Three names became the focus, and PTPD found a tentative match to Ellis on the night of Thursday, Dec. 29, according to PTPD Sgt. Joe Kaare. During the autopsy, a positive identification was made based on photos of the Ellis’ tattoos.
Ellis’ family was notified on Dec. 29. They are currently gathering to make funeral arrangements, said Gardner.
Ellis’ body was found near the foot of City Dock and the former Tidal Clock site. Two men, taking pictures along the shoreline, called 911 at 2:52 p.m. on Dec. 28 after seeing her body, said Bill Beezley of East Jefferson Fire Rescue. Construction workers nearby noticed her body floating in the water earlier in the day, but assumed it was a buoy.
The emergency response call went out as a rescue, but was quickly changed to recovery, and law enforcement was summoned.
The body showed no obvious signs of foul play, Beezley said.
Police are trying to find an Oak Harbor mother who has not been seen in almost a week.
Melissa C. Ellis, 31, was last seen leaving her home on November 25. She was believed to be headed to Coupeville or the beach.
“No one has heard from Melissa since then. Her cell phone was located on the sidewalk near her residence. It does not appear that she has any identification with her,” Oak Harbor Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Teri Gardner said.
“Melissa has memory lapses and lately has told friends that she feels stressed.”
Ellis has several tattoos including a koi fish on her right wrist and her two children on her shoulder.
Anyone with information about Ellis’ location is asked to call Det. Sgt. Gardner at (360)279-4623.
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