Body of Burley homicide victim identified by police

Russ Taft Victim of homicide

Russ Taft is the man whose body was found in the crawl space of Alpine Garden Motel last Friday.


Duane Ambrose is wanted for questioning in connection with Taft’s death.











The Voice photo by Renee Wells

The Alpine Garden Inn, a motel at 5th and Overland, is where police officers found the body of Russ Taft in the crawl space of the motel office.







The Voice

BURLEY – Local law enforcement officials have identified the body found in the Alpine Garden Motel last week as the motel’s manager Russ Taft, and they have determined he is the victim of a violent homicide.

Sheriff’s officials were called to the motel at 5th and Overland on Friday, May 18, after a cleaning lady discovered a body in the crawl space of the motel’s office.

The body was sent to Boise and an autopsy conducted Monday. It confirmed the fears of many of Taft’s friends and associates that he was the victim. He had been reported missing by an employee on May 4.

In a press release from Sheriff Randy Kidd Tuesday, it was disclosed that Taft died from blunt force trauma to the head and a single stab wound to his heart.

Kidd reported that his office is looking for the motel’s former maintenance man, Duane Ambrose, for questioning concerning Taft’s death. Ambrose was last seen in Las Vegas, Nevada around May 7, 2012. A taxicab belonging to Taft was recovered from Las Vegas, where it was found abandoned about the same time Ambrose was last seen. Ambrose is currently wanted on a warrant for grand theft and several warrants out of Las Vegas for varied crimes, including kidnapping, battery, burglary, robbery, and grand larceny.

Some of Taft’s friends were gathered at the motel Friday after hearing about discovery of the body. Karlynn Gonzales was angry that it took nearly three weeks to find the victim.

“We really feel the police have dropped the ball,” Gonzales said.

“They found the baseball bat in that closet. How is it they missed the body in the same place?”

Gonzales said Taft had been missing about five days before any effort was made by law enforcement to investigate his disappearance. She said Ambrose disappeared after other employees started questioning Taft’s disappearance.
“I’m sure he knows something,” Gonzales said.

Talaire Kent, who claimed to have been assistant manager of the motel, said she tried to report Taft as missing two days earlier and the police told her that because he was a responsible adult who apparently “left of his own free will,” they would not conduct any kind of investigation for seven days.

“I went back on Friday, May 4, and told them, ‘Hey, something is wrong here and we need to find him,’ and that is when they got the search warrants and started looking.”

Kent said Taft’s 16 year-old daughter was living at the motel with him at the time he disappeared, which was the reason she did not think he just left the area. The daughter apparently went to the Portland, Oregon area to stay with her mother after Taft disappeared and was not here when his body was found.

Kidd would not disclose any specifics about the investigation, but he released the victim’s name after family members were notified of his death.

He did say in his  Tuesday press release that additional warrants for Ambrose could be forthcoming, but  did not say what the charges would be.

The sheriff’s office is asking for anyone with information about Ambrose or this incident to contact Lt. K. Horak at 878-9313, or Cassia County Dispatch at 878-2252. You may also call CrimeStoppers and remain anonymous by calling 878-2900.


13 Comments on "Body of Burley homicide victim identified by police"

  1. Karlynn Gonzales May 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm ·

    In Kent’s statement that she went back on the 4th ????? Well let me see on the fourth i was asked to go drive shuttle on Fri. the 4th and about oh i would say 10:30 / 11:00 a call came in for a ride home from two men that i had taken to the riverside earlier …… I pulled in front of their apartment and a car was coming down the road …. low and behold it was a Burley officer a very nice officer….. well he flipped around …. me still being parked the lights came on ….. i gave him all my paper work and he then went to his to run me…… after he was done he came to my door gave me back all my stuff and i was telling him i was really sorry, but just not thinking straight because of my boss missing…. i said to the officer but i am sure you have heard …the officer then replied that he just came back from 2 days off and he didn’t know what i was talking about …. i then started to tell him holding back my tears….telling him that there is blood splatter on the ceiling … he then said he would like to come and see ….. i said sure so he followed me over to the Alpine Inn …. and only then is when they started the ball rolling…… If it was a officer that had said that they would not do anything until 7 days of him missing ….. Please step forward cuz i would love to ask you have you heard of the first 48 ???? I really have a problem believing that this statement was even said but if so please officer ?????? step forward…..I also believe some one knows more then what has came out of her mouth …. and that really bothers me… Russ was my boss , but most of all he was my friend …… I Love You Russ…… I Miss You so Very Much…. Wished I could hear your voice once more my dear boss friend …. R.I.P. …… I would like say this to you Renee Thank You so very much for Putting in words without any cover up…. Very Grateful to You !!!! Russ was a good man that didn’t deserve this from some one he thought was a friend ….

  2. Karlynn Gonzales May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm ·

    One last thing I must say ….. This one is for you Duane …… You will never know just how bad you have hurt so very many ….. Where are you ???? Why are you not here fighting for Russ if you have nothing to hide or run from…… I thought you said you would protect Thana ???? Do you realize just how much pain and what lose you have given to her ??? Do us all a favor Duane ……. For Once Stand Up And Be A Man…… Turn Yourself In……I don’t know what happened but i do care…… I seen you before stand up and fight for Russ so he wouldn’t be hurt …. where are you now….please Duane make a wrong to a right….. Turn yourself in …. I hate to think that you could possibly have a peaceful life or happy until it is turned into a right …. I don’t want to believe that you have a cold heart ….. or a cold one so Duane please come forward……

  3. Cody Lamb May 28, 2012 at 8:03 am ·

    R.I.P Russ My mom and I will never forget how kind you always were to us. I don’t see why anyone would want to bring harm to you but you didn’t deserve it. Love you man

  4. Amyjo May 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm ·

    I just wanted to add to what Karlynn said. I Knew Russ for some time and he was the most generous man. if you wanted something, all you had to do was ask. He donated to the poor and gave vouchers to the homeless to stay at his hotel. He was so kind. Duane lied, cheated and stole from him for years and Russ still called him a friend. On April 30th, Duane answered Russ’ phone when a call was made…which was odd to begin with. This information was reported to the crime stoppers, and a few days later, again to dispatch. Duane was repeating the whole conversation like someone was there listening. You would think this would be important information to the detectives, right? Guess not because there have been NO call backs for a statement. Point is, we have a killer on the loose and I for one think nothing is being done about it. They should have checked that hotell from top to bottom the first time. Way to drop the ball! Russ was a good man and did not deserve this. My prayers go to his daughter. RIP.

  5. Sheila Taft June 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm ·

    I am Russ’ first wife. We have two children together. It was awful to find out from surfing the web that he had been murdered. I called Russ’ mother and told her what had happened. Needless to say, she is devestated. None of Russ’ family was notified. So, I have to wonder just who was told. Very slopply, lazy work by the police department.!!

  6. Sharon June 6, 2012 at 11:22 am ·

    Father, Son, Uncle, Brother and to many a Friend:

    Russ, my brother how my heart aches for you. I am so sorry. I don’t think you realized how much you were loved by your family and friends.

    I am so proud to hear that you were so kind to many. You will never be forgotten! I LOVE YOU RUSS!

    Please, to anyone with information in this case COME FORWARD! We have so many questions. This was so unfair! Please…

    Love you my brother!


  7. Tracie June 8, 2012 at 10:43 am ·

    RIP Uncle Russ…..and know that none of your family and friends will rest until we get justice.

  8. Karen Pauly June 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm ·

    I was Russs girlfriend for 6 yrs. We lived together during this time. I just heard this news and am devastated. I really want to get in touch with Thana Taft and cannot find her contact information. If anybody knows how to reach her please let me know. My numbers are 360 431-5097 and 360 414-8600 # 122. This is a tragedy beyond words. Karen Pauly

  9. amanda taft June 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm ·

    I am russ tafts 3rd child. I would like to say a few things to James….. First off you took away a father that I never got to know. My father had grand children that he will never get to know. ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!!!!! I pray everyday that you get caught! I have soooo much more to say to you but I will save it all for when I see you at your sentencing…… James whatever happened please just turn yourself in.YOU KNOW DAMN WELL MY DAD DIDN’T DESERVE THAT. To everybody else all I can say is thanks for caring because it doesn’t seem like the police do. JAMES’S TIME WILL COME… REMEMBER

  10. karen pauly June 28, 2012 at 10:35 pm ·

    My name is Karen Pauly. Russ was my boyfriend for 6 yrs before he moved to Idaho. We lived together during that time and thana was an important part of my life too. I was trying to find Russ on Facebook today when I discovered he was murdered. This is a tragedy beyond words. I have so many pictures and memories. I am trying to find thana. If anybody knows how to reach her, please please let me know or have her contact me. My email is I am also on facebook(Kelso WA ) thana if you see this please contact me
    my old numbers have changed. I love you and your dad. I never stopped.hope to hear from you and see you soon. Love karen

  11. Kristi July 6, 2012 at 12:14 am ·

    Rip Uncle Russ, you must know know that none of your family and friends will rest until we get justice for you. You were taken away to soon…

    Our eyes filled up with tears as we heard the news
    It never occurred to us, how much we could lose
    We find our selves wishing that it wasn’t real
    Every time we think about it, pain is all we have……….
    When the sunny skies turn from blue to gray,
    I can’t help but wonder just what you would say?
    I wonder if you know how many lives you have touched,
    Do you know that people here love you oh so much ……….
    When you lose someone it can be hard to take
    the pain that you feel when your heart has to break
    the memories you keep are all in your mind
    as you search your soul for more to find……

    We love you Uncle Russ

    Pray to god your killer is caught!!!!

  12. kelly August 16, 2012 at 11:58 am ·

    I knew duane when we were teenagers and into our early twenties, have not seen him since 1981, I am sorry for this family’s loss, it seems that Duane has never ever changed. tell the police to look in boulder city too, he has or had family ( who have since certially disowned him) but you never know

  13. Talaire Kent November 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm ·

    I am not sure where to start, but know this- I have not spoken up about the horrific events that changed many peoples lives in the most tragic way possible. I was the assistant manager of The Alpine Motel when Russ Taft was murdered. I was not there the night it all played out but my daughter and Russes daughter were. Our friend – boss and father was taken away from us. I have worked with the U.S. Marshalls- I tried to help the Cassia county police (Terry Bell) and I have never seen such incompitence, in all my life. I am currently dealing with court battles that I brought apon myself as a result of what took place in all of our lives in May of 2012. I have nothing to hide nor have I ever. I was the one who was there for 25 days while Burley’s finest made a mockery of the whole investigation. I was the one they tried to use as a scape- goat. I was the one that had to watch my daughter and Russes daughter fall apart. I was the one that had to keep it all together while our lives were turned up-side down. I was the one who chose not to put me and my kid in the lime-light like this was a cheap reality series. I am the one that never told the public the facts. They have arrested the sadist-tyrant that ruined so many lives with no remorse. Now I feel the time has come to share with the public my truth. I will testify for the state, I will make sure that Ambrose is brought to justice. I will also do everything in my power to make sure that Cassia county detectives that were and are in charge of this investigation are held accountable for all the times they dropped the ball (so to speak) and for sweeping my friends murder under the carpet. He may have been only a file to them but he was my FRIEND!!!! So, regardless of what happens to me on my current court issues I will fullfill my promises to God and all those who were devestated by this senseless crime. I miss the man who gave me a job and a place to live when I had nothing, and never expected anything in return accept for HONESTY.. Well Russ today is the day. I will not let you die in vein! I will not stop fighting to tell your story. And even though I am currently looking at prison because I wrote bad checks after me and my daughter were kicked to the streets after all we had been through, trust this -I will pay the piper for what I did after all this happened, but so will those who treated this tragedy like it was merely a number. You my Friend will never be just a case file to me. You always had our back and I promise to have your’s. In closing I have one thing left to say,” Anyonyone can try to smoke screen the truth or color it how they seem fit to do so, but never forget the really cool thing about the truth is it cannot be smoke screened for long and truth has a way of ;coming out in the laundry!’ I have told the truth from day one and as GOD as my witness the truth will be told and those who REALLY knew and loved him will be set free.. I am here. Not going anywhere. So anyone who feels they have more facts about this living nightmare then me ,First hit your knees- Get Real with you and your God and I will see you in COURT. Thank You for letting me Voice and Thank you GOD for answering my prayers. My birthday is tomorrow and what a gift I’ve been given. See you Soon Duane.. In a court of law, I will see that Russ rests in PEACE!!!!

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