Doe made famous for living in cemetery shot dead - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Doe made famous for living in cemetery shot dead

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A doe who got national attention after she made friends with a stray dog and the two hung out in a cemetery has been shot and killed. (Photo courtesy: Bruce Mathews) A doe who got national attention after she made friends with a stray dog and the two hung out in a cemetery has been shot and killed. (Photo courtesy: Bruce Mathews)
Ella the deer had been living in Kansas City's Elmwood Cemetery for some time and had become almost a tourist attraction for the area. (Photo courtesy: Stephanie Turbiville) Ella the deer had been living in Kansas City's Elmwood Cemetery for some time and had become almost a tourist attraction for the area. (Photo courtesy: Stephanie Turbiville)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A doe that got national attention after she made friends with a stray dog and the two hung out in a cemetery has been shot and killed.

Security staff at the cemetery found her Sunday evening just feet from the cemetery's chapel. She survived an attack earlier this year. Cemetery officials said they are heartbroken at the cruel and senseless crime.

"She had been shot once through the right shoulder. You can't try to make sense out of it," said Bruce Mathews, a cemetery board of trustees member. "Someone with a hard heart and a confused mind. I'm being kind when I say that. She meant something different to everybody who came down here. ... The rational mind can't make sense of anything like this. Who would do it?"

Ella had been living in Kansas City's Elmwood Cemetery for more than two years and had become almost a tourist attraction for the area.

"She has been a presence here ever since," Mathews said. "I like to say that she was a wild animal, not a pet. But she was family."

She was very docile and cemetery officials said they didn't think she'd survive in the wild.

"I think she stayed because she was born here. It was the only home she ever knew. She loved people but didn't like the cars or the mowers. She was something very special to the cemetery," Mathews said.

Ella was born Memorial Day 2011. Cemetery officials don't know exactly how her mother got into the cemetery.

When Ella was 3 months old, her mother was struck and killed by a vehicle on Truman Road, leaving the young doe an orphan. She stayed around the cemetery and seldom left, even following mourners or those tending graves or attending weddings at the chapel. She loved the chapel area.

"Whenever we had a wedding or funeral at Armour chapel, she would come and stand in the doorway and watch the whole proceedings," said Mathews, who had championed Ella's cause and took numerous pictures of her. "If there was a funeral, she would blend in and become part of the proceedings. That was part of her charm."

Some had asked why she wasn't taken to a wildlife preserve.

"We were told early on by the department of conservation not to try to catch her. For good or bad, this was her home," Mathews explained.

And soon her final resting place. Mathews knows her spirit will linger.

"We will miss her, but we hope people remember the joy she brought to their lives," Mathews said. "She brought life to this place of the dead. She was born here. This is the only home she ever knew. She'll be here."

Police have few leads, and Mathews doesn't know if the killer will ever be caught.

"In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing like a grieving mother," he said. "We have too many in this part of town that have lost a child from a senseless act of violence."

A group of people who said they cherish the deer after spending some time with her have already put together a Facebook group in hopes of raising some money for a memorial for her at Elmwood Cemetery. Many are voicing their outrage over the shooting on the page.

More than 36,000 people are buried at Elmwood Cemetery. Wayside Waifs will cremate Ella, and her ashes will be scattered near her favorite places at the cemetery.

"It is no stretch to say that she brought joy and life to this 43-acre oasis in the "heart" of Kansas City. We have all been blessed in our own unique ways," Mathews said.

The stray dog that began hanging out with the deer at the cemetery last year was taken to the Wayside Waifs animal shelter when people got worried how she would cope with the upcoming winter. The dog was named Moxie and is now living with a family.

If you have any information that could help capture Ella's killer, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS. The cemetery has received offers of up to $1,500 in rewards, but hasn't established anything yet.

The board will meet later this week to consider how best to remember Ella.

Tell us your thoughts at KCTV5's Facebook page. Click here.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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