AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Nearly 30 years later, a local mother fights for justice in the murder of her 17-year-old son.  

“[A]Bout 12 [pm] he took me to work,” Leomie Blocker recalled.  “He said well I’m going to go by the mall and trade in some cards because I need me a couple extra dollars for gas.  I said OK.  That’s what happened when he left.  He said see ya later mama.  And that was it.”

It’s a day Leomie Blocker will never forget.  Her son Leon Ellison’s birthday. And the last day she saw him.

“On the way to the hospital they said I don’t think we’re going to make it. Let’s pull over on the side of the road.  I said no, this ain’t going to happen on the side of the road. We go to the hospital and the emergency room and there come Leon,” his mother remembered fondly.

Lonzy and Leomie Ellison welcomed their youngest child on March 29, 1977.  With Leon, they became a family of six in Toms River, New Jersey. Sister Betty Ellison said she was elated.  She had a new playmate. 

“Hit and run and I got you,” Ellison reflected on the past. “One of those kinds of games.  I don’t even remember what it was called back then.  Later on that day you still remembered I owe you a tap.  I owe you a tap.”

Despite being a bit older, Betty describes her brother as having a big heart, always supportive and very proud of her.  She recalls growing up as Jehovah’s Witnesses and being home bound with a small circle.

“We didn’t go outside and play and run the streets and all that stuff.  Everything was structured,” Betty Ellison said.  “We usually were with our parents and we would go over to family friends house and play with their kids while the parents were there.”

That tight knit east coast family grew up and relocated in 1990.  Mom, dad and the two younger sons settled into their Oakview Place home in the Hephzibah area of Augusta, Georgia.

Betty, who had become a mom herself by then, stayed behind along with her sister.

Now a teenager, Leon had to adapt to new surroundings.

“In New Jersey, he respected people but he didn’t have to say yes ma’am and no ma’am.  He said yes and no.  But he could say yes ma’am and no ma’am. It was a demand here you better say yes ma’am and no ma’am,” Blocker said.

We also spoke with Coach Bernard Bowman. He said Leon Ellison was a student in his Physical Science class at Glenn Hills High School.  He described him as mild mannered, quiet, and not a trouble maker. To Bowman, Leon was a normal kid at the time who would affectionately greet him as coach.

So, on Tuesday, March 29, 1994, Leon was being a normal kid.  One who simply wanted the family car so he could trade his baseball cards for cash at Regency Mall and head to a job interview at Applebee’s on Wrightsboro Road.  Reluctantly, his mom agreed.

“Me and my husband had separated at that point.  I said the way things are going, you’re going to have to get a little job in order to help pay part of the insurance.  He said well ok,” Blocker told us.

So on his 17th birthday, Blocker said her son dropped her off at work, the former Kmart store on Gordon Highway. She said he was expected to return just before the store closed to pick her back up and never returned.

“He would come in around 8:30. Kmart closed at 9:30. It was so busy until I didn’t realize it.  Then I looked around and said Leon not coming in trying to get me to buy him anything.  It was always like he would find a little of this and a little of that and lay it up on the counter,” Blocker said of her son back then.

A co-worker eventually gave her a ride home and Blocker just assumed he was spending his birthday evening with his brother. But still something wasn’t right. She called the police.

“He wanted to do something, all he had to do was ask me, especially when it come to spending the night with his brother and his friends,” she said.  All he had to do was just bring me the car. Go on back with them, you know?”

“No matter what he was doing or what he would do, he’s not going to be late picking up my mom,” Ellison said.

A Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigator took the missing person report, listing Leon as 5′ 9″ and 130 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes.  They were also on the look out for the Maroon 1986 Oldsmobile Delta 88 he was driving. And although she knew her son was gone the moment he didn’t pick her up for work, that thought was confirmed when police found the car parked at Regency Mall a few days later.

Blocker said, “The odd thing about that was it was parked in the spot where we always park the car.  Right out in front on Gordon Highway, right outside of Montgomery Ward.”

Inside the car there was no identification.  Blocker said the insurance cards and the registration, in her husband Lonzy Ellison’s name, were missing.

“Certain spots on the car they had burned, like acid burns,” she recalled.

A few days after locating the car, something strange happened.  A couple who lived off Peach Orchard Road, near a golf club, made a discovery.

“They lived out there by the golf course, so what happened was their dog brought one of Leon’s shoes to their house,” said Blocker.

That dog led police straight to remains later identified through dental records as Leon Ellison. And the Coroner told her a longer wait would have been worse.

“Many more days and they wouldn’t have found him at all,” she said emotionally.

“So, he had already began to decompose,” we asked.

“Yes, and animals,” Blocker replied.

We then asked, “Did you find out how he officially died?”

“A gun shot to the back of the head,” his mother stated.

“I’m just so dumbfounded of this whole, whole murder.  I just don’t understand it.  Everybody was shocked,” Betty Ellison said in frustration.

The family remains confused, especially since the family car was not stolen.  Leon’s mother said her son’s wallet and jewelry were with his body.   Blocker added the investigator at the time, Kenneth Boose worked hard, and interviewed everyone who had come in contact with her son.  She said one woman went to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office with information about the murder, but didn’t follow through and share the information with authorities. Blocker said ahead of her son’s murder, she also learned shocking news.

“Leon was very upset, upset to the point that he went and talked to this person about what was going on with him and that’s not like Leon.  He don’t get that upset that he got to discuss things with somebody,” she said.

Blocker said she does not know what troubled her son.  But she can only assume it may have pertained to his father since the couple had separated at the time.

While rumors and even thoughts about what could have happened stay with the family, they just want justice for the life he never got to live.

“He said he was going to move back to New Jersey and set up him a trucking company because he had some money in trust,” his mother told us of her son’s dream to be a truck driver.

Blocker told us after her son’s death, the $23,000 trust he inherited after a bad car accident as a kid was shared among the family.  Leon’s sister said it was a career that could have been a game changer.

“He would have did good,” his sister said. “Who knows where I would have been by now. Maybe I would have been involved in the trucking company.”

Anyone with any information about the murder of Leon Ellison should contact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 706-821-1000.