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