Friday, May 30, 2014

Official results received in murder case

Coroner rules death caused by ‘multiple gunshot wounds’

Express Staff Writer

     Official results concerning body identity and cause of death are now available from the Blaine County Coroner’s Office in the murder case of shooting victim Stephan Michael Romanchuk.

     Coroner Russell Mikel said Thursday that a pathologist’s findings confirm an earlier statement by Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey that Romanchuk died of “multiple gunshot wounds.” Romanchuk, a 47-year-old Hailey resident, had been missing for four months before his body was found by police on May 15 partially buried in a pile of leaves at the residence of 49-year-old Keith Eric Blankenship on Deer Creek Road north of Hailey.

     Ramsey said earlier that Romanchuk had been shot at least five times. However, Mikel said the precise number of bullets that entered Romanchuk’s body has not been determined and is still being investigated by forensic pathologists.

     Both Ramsey and Mikel reported earlier that no bullets or fragments had been found in Romanchuk’s body.

     Mikel also said the body, which was partially decomposed, has now been positively identified as that of Romanchuk.

     “We do have the dental identification that confirms the identity,” Mikel said.

     Meanwhile, Blankenship, accused of killing Romanchuk, remained incarcerated Thursday in the Blaine County jail on $500,000 bond. He has been charged with second-degree murder and a second felony of “destruction, alteration or concealment” of evidence.

     A preliminary hearing that was scheduled for Thursday has now been rescheduled for 3 p.m. on July 7.

     The Roark Law Firm in Hailey has been appointed by the court as public defender.

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