Police: Nothing missing from funeral home

Joanna Dornfeld

Investigators found nothing missing from the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson, Wis., where two men were found shot and killed Tuesday.

Police led employees through the building in search of clues to the mysterious shooting deaths that rocked the small town.

James Ellison, 22, a University mortuary science senior, and University alumnus Daniel O’Connell, 38, were found dead Tuesday afternoon.

Despite not finding any chemicals missing, Hudson police Sgt. Marty Jensen said he was not ruling out the theft of formaldehyde – an embalming chemical that can increase marijuana’s potency – as a possible motive.

“We can’t rule anything out because you don’t know if whoever did this was startled during the middle of something,” Jensen said.

The time of death has been narrowed down to between noon and 1:40 p.m., when a coroner on a routine errand found the bodies near an office in the back of the building.

“We’ve had a lot of calls and a lot of tips, but now we’re specifically looking for anyone who talked to James Ellison or Daniel O’Connell between 12 and 2 p.m.,” Jensen said. “We’re also looking for anyone who drove past the funeral home between those hours.”

Jensen also said he and his officers were keeping the investigation open.

“At the present time we can’t rule anything out,” Jensen said.

The victims were shot with a handgun several times each, Jensen said Thursday. There were no signs of forced entry or robbery.

Police have still not released the caliber of gun used in the killings or how many times each man was shot.

The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office said the autopsy on O’Connell had been completed late Thursday afternoon. The autopsy on Ellison was not completed as of press time.

The Ellison and O’Connell families have made funeral arrangements.

Ellison’s visitation will be Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Rausch-Rockman Funeral Home, 19 S. 3rd St., Barron, Wis.

His funeral will be Monday at 11 a.m. at the Barron Area Community Center, 800 Memorial Dr., Barron, Wis. The community center is attached to the high school.

O’Connell’s visitation will be Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1500 Vine St. in Hudson, Wis.

His funeral will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick’s.

A scholarship fund has been set up in James Ellison’s name through the Minnesota Medical Foundation. Donations can be mailed to the James Ellison Scholarship Fund, University of Minnesota Program of Mortuary Science, c/o Minnesota Medical Foundation, P.O. Box 64001, St. Paul, MN 55164.

A memorial fund has been set up for O’Connell’s children at Citizens State Bank. Donations can be sent to the Memorial Scholarship Fund for Kyle and Kaitlyn O’Connell, Citizens State Bank, 2212 Crest View Dr., Hudson, WI 54016.

– Josh Linehan contributed
to this report.

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]