John Ellis was born on September 14, 1950 and grew up in Athens. He was drafted into the army in 1970 and married his high school sweetheart, Kate, before being shipped to Vietnam. He served one tour in infantry and a second as a mechanic. He returned home around Christmas of 1973 and his son was conceived that New Year’s Eve. Following the family tradition, he became a cop. Kate gave up her job doing secretarial work for the local Roman Catholic church and dedicated herself to being a housewife. They were a happy family for the most part, though John’s drinking worried his wife. He was a different man then the one she’d known in high school, prone to dark moods and less religious.
When she was diagnosed with stomach cancer in June of 1982, he took it badly and got worse as the long two years of her suffering dragged on. He withdrew from both her and his son, retreating into drinking and work. When she died on Valentine’s Day 1984, he was just numb and secretly thankful that it was over. Emotionally incapable of being a single parent, he left his son to raise himself or be raised by his fellow cops, who became their defacto family. The only bonding he did with his son was teaching him how to restore an old Dodge Challenger he’d saved from the junkyard. By the time he graduated, though, the two had drifted completely apart. John was now a heavy drinker and no longer able to work. He gave the car to his son and they parted ways.