News

Navy petty officer dies in shooting

"A 23-year-old Oak Harbor woman died Saturday morning after her male companion allegedly shot her once in the head during an apparent domestic dispute, Oak Harbor police investigators said. Police arrested Jerry Lee Farrow, 23, of Saginaw, Mich., who met officers on the front lawn of the home and had blood all over him, said Detective Sgt. Jerry Baker of the Oak Harbor Police Department. Farrow, not in the military, was being held in Island County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond. Charges were expected to be filed against the suspect today in Superior Court. Farrow's arraignment is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 17.The couple's 4-year-old daughter was asleep in an adjacent bedroom, and was turned over to Child Protective Services. Police found the victim, Faith C. Ellison, in her bedroom at her military family housing unit on Grouse Lane in Oak Harbor, Baker said. Ellison was a Navy third class petty officer aviation storekeeper stationed at Patrol Squadron One at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Police responded to the scene after receiving two emergency 911 calls placed from the home. The first call, at 5:11 a.m., was a hang-up call, meaning that someone had dialed 911 and then hung up without speaking to the dispatcher. The dispatcher followed routine and informed the naval air station security department of the call, since the call came from Navy property. Naval air station security and an Island County sheriff's officer headed to the scene. Meanwhile Farrow made a second 911 call from the residence a few minutes later, sounding hysterical and asking for help, Baker said. The naval air station security officers and the Island County officer entered the home and found Ellison partially on the bed and wearing night clothes. Oak Harbor paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene. Immediately after finding Ellison's body, police searched the house and one of the naval air station officers found the child in the her bedroom. He picked up the sleeping child and immediately removed her from the home. The child was completely unaware of what had happened, Baker said. Ellison returned from deployment to Japan with the VP-1 squadron in June and had just moved into the military family housing unit about three weeks ago. Farrow, with whom Ellison had an on-and-off relationship for the past six years, had arrived from Michigan, driving Ellison's car, about two weeks ago. He was planning to live with Ellison and the child, Baker said. The investigation indicates that the couple was experiencing tension in their relationship and each suspected infidelity by the other, Baker said. Farrow, who had been drinking before the slaying, brought the alleged murder weapon, a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, with him from Michigan. Nearly three hours after the initial 911 call, Farrow had agreed to take a blood-alcohol test, which registered his level at .136. The blood-alcohol level that legally determines drunkenness is .08 in Washington.Alcohol, anger and guns don't go well in a relationship, Baker said. Farrow had no prior convictions as an adult, Baker said, and he is unsure if Farrow had a juvenile record, which are expunged when the juvenile reaches the age of 18.However, Oak Harbor Police Detective Teri Gardner, in the Affidavit of Probable Cause filed with Island County Superior Court on Monday, stated, Farrow is rumored to have gang ties, which would be consistent with photos found at the scene of the crime. It was confirmed that Farrow was involved in some type of gang-related drive-by (shooting) recently; that they were aware of Farrow's gang ties. According to the affadavit, Farrow first told detectives that Ellison had shot herself while he went into the kitchen to have a sandwich. The affadavit states that evidence at the crime scene was inconsistent with Farrow's story and later in the day Gardner spoke with Farrow with another detective present in the room. Gardner read Farrow his rights and informed him he was under arrest for first-degree murder. The affadavit states that Farrow then said, We were just playin' ... when I pulled the trigger, I didn't think (the gun) was loaded.The affadavit also contains statements made by people who knew Ellison. One friend of Ellison told Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents that about a week before her death, Ellison spoke of an incident where Farrow had threatened Ellison with a gun. The friend said Ellison told her Farrow woke her up by poking her with a gun and he kept pointing it at her. The affadavit quotes the friend as having said Farrow told Ellison, I could kill you and then myself, but then where would (the daughter) be.Neighbors did not hear the disturbance or the gunshot, Baker said. Ellison's housing unit, while attached to neighboring units, was on the end, with the bedrooms on the unattached side. The next nearest residence is across the street. Additionally, the gunshot would have been muffled, almost as if a silencer were on the gun, because of the way the gun was fired, Baker said. The barrel of the gun was touching Ellison's forehead. Police have the gun and a shell casing, but have been unable to find the bullet. The Grouse Lane house remained roped off with police tape on Tuesday.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611 "

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