Voice of Kingsburg murder suspect may come back to haunt her

FRESNO, Calif.

Ellis wiped tears from her face in court as prosecutors piled up the evidence against her in the murder of her husband.

Mrs. Ellis called 911 that night in September, saying she heard intruders while she and /*Robert Ellis*/ laid in bed. She said Robert went to investigate, then she heard gunshots. But detectives say the bed was undisturbed and Kathryn's claim of forced entry also seemed questionable.

"What I did see was the handles and locks on the exterior were covered with dust," said Fresno County sheriff's detective Jody Flores.

Detectives found the murder weapon in a trash can behind the home. Action News soon learned of an attempt by /*Kathryn Ellis*/ to increase her husband's life insurance policies.

Detectives confirmed that report and also discovered she made unusual requests when discussing potential policies with financial advisors.

"Kathryn Ellis didn't want Robert Ellis to have any knowledge of her inquiries about increasing the life insurance," said Fresno County Sheriff's detective Sergio Toscano.

And two months before her husband's death, Kathryn Ellis emptied out her husband's retirement account. She did it on the phone, and detectives acquired the recording. It shows the person claiming to be Robert Ellis didn't even know his own birthday. The couple's teenage son later admitted Kathryn Ellis had him pose as his father.

"May I have your name please?" asked the operator in the recording.

"I am Robert Wayne Ellis," answered the voice later identified as Tom Ellis.

"The last four digits of your Social Security number?" the operator asked.

"0459," said Tom Ellis.

"And date of birth?" asked the operator.

A pause followed before Kathryn Ellis is heard whispering, "2/18/64."

"2/18/64," said Tom Ellis.

But then Kathryn Ellis is heard whispering again, "58."

"58," Tom Ellis said after his mother's correction.

Kathryn Ellis' attorney says she was pursuing life insurance because the $260,000 maximum coverage Robert already had was not enough. And she tried to keep it secret because after a recent heart attack, Robert didn't like to face life or death issues.

A judge will decide Thursday whether there's enough evidence for Kathryn Ellis to stand trial for murder.

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