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State police reopen 1981 homicide of former bartender

March 16, 2021 GMT

SALINE, Mich. (AP) — Nearly 40 years later, police are asking for the public’s help to solve the death of a woman who was last seen leaving a Washtenaw County bar.

Mary Alice Ellicott was at the Polar Bear Bar, on U.S. 12 between Clinton and Saline, on Oct. 11, 1981. Her body was found 13 days later in a grassy field, less than 2 miles away, a victim of a homicide.

Ellicott, 29, was well known at the bar; the Saline resident had quit a job as a bartender a week earlier, said Det. Sgt. Larry Rothman of the state police.

Rothman said more resources, not a major tip, led to the decision to reopen the cold case.

“It’s fair to say” investigators are starting from scratch, Rothman said Tuesday.

“A lot of work was done when this first happened,” he said. “Whenever you’re working on a cold case you have to open up the box and go over everything.”

No tip is too small.

“Over the years, people talk, relationships change,” Rothman said. “Those people may have known her or heard of her. Every little thing is important. To me, everything is relevant.”

Anyone with information can call (313) 407-9379.

Polar Bear Bar is now known as Thompson Bar & Grill in Saline Township.