Father speaks out: Memphis firefighter accused of killing his daughter

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A Memphis firefighter on the run after police said he shot and killed his ex-girlfriend at an East Memphis Target.

Torhonda Cathey's father said she filed a restraining order and multiple police reports, but Ronald Ellis kept coming back.

According to his personnel file, Ellis harassed and even attacked three ex-girlfriends and a female co-worker.

"I miss her. I miss her you know," said Gurnett Cathey, Torhonda's father.

Gurnett said goodbye to his only daughter at the hospital today. She was just 33 years old, and killed days before her son's ninth birthday.

"I remember that day she was born. Now I got to see this," said Gurnett.

Torhonda was shot twice in a Target parking lot on Colonial Monday during her lunch break. Police said she was trying to run away from Ellis.

"He just came around stalking her. He refused to go on with his life," said Gurnett.

Ellis has been a Memphis firefighter since 2003.

In his personnel file, WREG uncovered he was arrested for a number of charges including domestic violence last October after he ignored Torhonda's restraining order and "kicked the back passenger door of her car leaving a huge dent and imprint of his shoe while her 8-year-old was in the back seat."

"When he first got that first charge, something should have been done about that. You shouldn't give a person three or four times," said Gurnett.

From 2003 to 2007, even more police reports were filed against Ellis for domestic violence. He was charged with assaulting another girlfriend in 2004, and again in 2007 for shoving a female paramedic at work.

Fire Director Alvin Benson said he knew about the lengthy rap sheet, but only suspended him without pay.

"Had there been another incident after this, he would've been facing termination," said Benson.

Gurnett wants to know why Ellis was given so many chances. His daughter felt defenseless and scared for her life.

"I knew he wasn't a ball to be played with," he said. "It's a terrifying thing to happen."

Monday night, police barricaded Ellis' Southeast Memphis home for five hours, but he wasn't in there.

The family is begging for help finding Ellis. Police said he took off in a white Ford Focus with Louisiana tags.


  • jowin1594

    So basically, you can get away with domestic violence and nothing really happens to you until you kill somebody? Wow!

  • Christine

    My condolences go out to the family. We need to start educating our children at a early age of what true love is like. Also we need to teach them that dating for the sake of dating is not good. We need to teach our children that if you find someone you are interested in, bring them to meet your people and the other person should introduce to his or hers people. By doing this, you can find out how a person was raised and what type of family they came from.

    • divia

      Sometime kids are raised but they stil have the influences of the outside. you can only go so far in blaming the
      parents. I know some kids from the worst family. Mother does not care . Father not in the home and living from
      had to mouth . They have become some of the most outstanding citizens. Some people have anger issue or just plan mean and evil. We always try to find someone to blame besides the person. He is a monster period.

  • Christine

    When it comes to crime in the Black community, the District Attorney Office does not treat criminal acts against blacks as the same. They set these law bonds and do a lot of plea deals. In most of the criminal acts, you will find that the accused is out on bond or on probation. The black community do care about crime. They are fearful the the criminal or the criminal’s family will come after them. For example in another state there two young ladies were snatched in front of their family. The family knew who the perpetrators were. It was gang members from a young man’s gang that killed them to keep them from testifying. Most people want to do what is right, but may not have the resources to move to another area of town.

  • WhenWillWeLearm

    When a fireman or policeman is involved in any type of crime more times than not they cleared of any wrong doing. Then they have the nerve to get mad when their benefits are cut. Some are no good and a very poor example for our city. Mister union representative get on television and explain this one. Some think they are untouchable and this makes me sick…

  • mike

    You Mr Ellis are a vile person you torment this lady scare her child. It appears she was trying to live her life without you, trying to move on but no you couldn’t let her be. Now she is dead is this what you wanted? That if i can’t have you then no one will. To the father i grieve with you sir as i have three daughters of my own.

  • not sure

    Girls quit serving up Ragu to these guys and when they go crazy from the RAGU you want to call the police. In case some are not aware it is not sauce in a jar.

  • Rubie Burton

    Torhonda did what she was suppose to do ‘Dumped his a__!!## when she found out he was crazy. No matter what she served him its no her fault. Her 2nd mistake was no leaving town after pressing charges. There were other women with charges against him bu he could not get too them.

Comments are closed.