Cameron Ely was once a popular and talented Harvard quarterback, praised for his intelligence and beloved by his father — “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely.
But on Wednesday night, the 30-year-old was shot dead in a hail of gunfire with Santa Barbara police — after apparently stabbing his mother to death and then trying to pin the crime on his frail, 81-year-old dad.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department has not released a motive for the grisly attack on Valerie Lundeen, 62, but said Cameron posed a threat to deputies, who then gunned him down at the family’s $4.8 million home in the exclusive Hope Ranch neighborhood.
It’s a far cry from previous accounts of Cameron’s life.
Photos on social media show he was a popular and talented athlete who went to some of the best schools in the country — towering over his friends at 6-foot-5 and inheriting his famous superhero father’s good looks.
He was a star student at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, winning the Mr Royal talent competition in 2006 and taking home trophies as the school quarterback.
In 2005, a profile on a college football website gushed over Cameron’s talent, writing “the sky is the limit for San Marcos high school QB Cameron Ely.”
Cameron later attended the elite Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, regularly named as one of the best boarding schools in America and where tuition is $49,000 a year, before going to Harvard.
The school praised his talent in an article in the Harvard Crimson in 2007 — touting his GPA above 4, “supreme intelligence” and “ability to make good decisions.”
He graduated in 2012 with a bachelor of arts in psychology, a Harvard spokesperson told People on Thursday.
That same year, Ron Ely spoke of his love and commitment to his three children, explaining he gave up his Hollywood career to focus on raising his two daughters and Cameron.
He explained that the adult children all lived at home, with Cameron’s wing taking up two rooms in the Santa Barbara mansion.
“It’s great in the morning. We see each other,” Ron told website Fanboy Planet.
“We see each other in the evening, we see each other when they come and go. We’re always in touch,” he added.
The actor, who brought his son along to the interview, also described how much Cameron loved his family.
“Where did my son go, anyway?” Ron asked the reporter. “Must have been a pretty girl, because that’s the only thing that could draw him away,” he said.
Ron Ely at the ‘Retro TV Action-Adventure-Thon’ in September 2012 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic)
It’s unclear what Cameron had been up to in recent years. Records show he was licensed as a security guard for the last two years, according to the LA Times. One of the most recent photos of Cameron shows him beaming with pride next to his father at his sister Kaitland’s 2016 wedding.
On Thursday, it was revealed that Cameron appears to have called 911 and told an operator his father attacked his former beauty queen mom, according to audio posted by TMZ.
When the officers arrived on the scene, they found the actor was frail and could barely talk because of an apparent disability. Ron told officers his son had driven off after the murder, and they found him 90 minutes later outside the home, where they shot him dead.