Family and friends come and go as they pay their respects at Elmwood Cemetery, but one visitor lived on the grassy grounds her whole life.
Ella was a two-year-old deer born in the courtyard of one of Elmwood's mausoleums. The volunteers who run the cemetery, located at Truman Road and Hardesty Avenue, say they don't know exactly where she came from. About three months after she was born, her mother strayed away from the grounds and was struck by a car.
On Sunday, Ella's own life was cut short when she was found shot by cemetery security guards who were locking up around 6 p.m. She'd been struck on the shoulder and was dead when cemetery board president John Weilert arrived. "The rational mind can't try to even figure something like this out," said board member Bruce Mathews. "Everybody who looked after her, everybody who would come to visit the cemetery, the officers from the East Patrol station - all I can say is it was somebody with a hard heart and confused mind."
Ella stayed on at Elmwood - her namesake - after her mother died, befriending people who came to visit the graves. She even struck up a friendship with a stray dog that wandered onto the cemetery grounds. They were "the ultimate odd couple," said Mathews.
Ella stood alongside mourners during funerals and made the rounds during Elmwood's annual picnic, he said.
"She’s been our goodwill ambassador," Mathews said. "Ella was like any other deer - she didn't like the mowers, and she liked the traffic on Truman Road even less. But she loved people."
Mathews said the cemetery board will meet Thursday evening to discuss scheduling a memorial for Ella in the next few weeks, but he noted that something will be planned in Ella's honor at the cemetery's picnic on Oct. 5.
"We'll miss her," Mathews said. "She was a wild animal. She was not a pet. But she was family, and she touched everybody who came to the cemetery."
Bruce Mathews joined Brian Ellison on Tuesday's show.