MANATEE -- The 2010-11 school year is likely to end Thursday with no arrests in the slaying of Ken Ellis, a popular Tae Kwon Do teacher with the students and staff of Manatee School for the Arts.
Ellis was shot to death March 29 in the doorway of his North Port home, but no arrests had been made as of Monday.
The North Port Police Department has inter- viewed 400 to 500 Manatee School for the Arts students, faculty, staff and their friends, with some interviews conducted as recently as last week, said Dr. Bill Jones, founder and director of the school.
“It’s absolutely not a cold case,” Jones said Monday. “They have made an impressive effort. They are as determined as we are to sort this one out. I am sure the pressure is great on the police department. There has been so much publicity surrounding this case. They want to show that North Port is safe.”
North Port Police Captain Robert Estrada could not be reached Monday for comment, but Jones said he has been in touch with the department almost daily.
On the eve of summer vacation, Jones said he, his staff and students are feeling worn out waiting for an arrest.
“In one sense, it makes you very tired,” Jones said. “I think on the outside our students are OK. But there are still some very distressed by it. I get a couple of parents who report that their child starts to cry when they talk about something related to Ken.
“It’s frustrating,” Jones added. “We need closure. We need justice.”
Jones has been grappling with how to find someone to replace Ellis in the Tae Kwon Do classroom, which Jones feels is very important to the school.
“I lament the fact that Ken is not there every time I walk past the Tae Kwon Do room,” Jones said. “Ken was very quiet, very unobtrusive. He was a simple, calm person. It’s not like you had a vibrant extrovert waving and smiling.
“People woefully underestimate the importance of martial arts,” he added. “It teaches discipline in situations where you are confronted with panic. It teaches you not to panic, to assess the situation and act. It makes students more observant. It makes them different, in a good way.”
Ellis’ classes were picked up by fourth-degree Tae Kwon Do black belt Terry Bibbins, but Jones thinks Bibbins is not planning to be a permanent replacement.
Anyone who feels he or she is destined to take over Ellis’ Tae Kwon Do class at the school is asked to call the school at 721-6800, ext. 1141, Jones said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.