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Simpson charged with murder

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EDINBURGH — A Fairland man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend was upset over a breakup with her and had threatened to kill her and family members, according to police.

Joseph Earl Simpson, 44, showed up everywhere Kaye Ellis, 48, went, she told friends, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Her son caught him peering through the windows of her Edinburgh home, the affidavit reads.

Ellis, mother of three grown sons, died of a gunshot wound Feb. 20.

Simpson made it known that he wanted her dead while he was following her, according to the affidavit. Friends and family members told police that Simpson had threatened her during an on-and-off relationship that was described as tumultuous.

Simpson left messages at Ellis’ work threatening to kill her and told her brother he would kill her, according to the affidavit. He showed up at Kaye Ellis’ home with a gun weeks before she was shot and killed.

He told a detective that he shot Ellis after an argument at her home last Sunday, according to police.

The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Simpson with murder and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. He could face 45 to 65 years in prison, if convicted of the murder charge.

Police found a .38 caliber revolver and a spent shell casing in Simpson’s pocket when they arrested him Friday. He allegedly told police that he used that handgun to shoot Ellis.

He told police that he had gone to her home that Sunday, and she had let him in the house. They quickly got into an argument.

While they were arguing, Simpson pointed his loaded handgun at her chest, according to the affidavit. She pushed the gun away from her.

Simpson then stepped to her side and fired, striking her in the back of the head, according to the affidavit. He initially told them he did not know how the gun fired.

He told police he checked her pulse and found she had none. He ran out the front door and drove off without calling for medical help, according to the affidavit.

Troubled relationship

Witnesses told police that the couple had a troubled relationship and that Simpson abused and threatened her and her family, according to the affidavit. Her daughter-in-law told police Simpson had threatened Ellis’ son, Troy Phelps.

Simpson also threatened Ellis’ brother on New Year’s Eve, demanding to know if she was with anyone and saying he would kill her, according to the affidavit. A co-worker at KYB Manufacturing in Franklin told police she heard voicemail messages he left on Ellis’ phone threatening to kill her a week before she was murdered.

In January, her son, Michael Wimminaur, confronted Simpson when he caught him peering through her windows, according to the affidavit. Wimminaur saw that Simpson had a revolver tucked in his pants, grabbed it from him and unloaded it.

Simpson was not supposed to own a firearm, because he was a convicted felon.

He was convicted of a felony charge of aggravated battery in Marion County in 1998 and sentenced to five years in prison, according to the affidavit.

Witnesses told police that he was known to carry a gun and had been abusive and threatening toward Ellis. One friend told police she was at a Franklin bar with Ellis a few days before she was killed, and that Simpson drove by while they were on the patio.

Ellis told her, “See, he’s everywhere I am,” according to the affidavit.

The case has been referred to Johnson Circuit Court, where Simpson will be informed of the charges during a hearing today.

He is being held at Johnson County Jail without bond.

Joseph S. Pete is a reporter for the Johnson County Daily Journal, a sister newspaper to The Republic.

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