Documents: Hailey man admits killing neighbor, burying body in backyard

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by Karen Zatkulak

KREM.com

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 8:43 PM

HAILEY, Idaho – More details are coming out today about a bizarre murder case in Blaine County.

The body of 47-year-old Steve Romanchuk, missing for months, was found Thursday buried in a pile of leaves in a neighbor’s backyard.

KTVB went to Hailey Friday where investigators are still collecting evidence.

The body was found at a home on Deer Creek Road, just off Highway 75. This is where the suspect, Keith Blankenship, lived.

A day after the victim’s body was found in Blankenship’s backyard, the sheriff’s office is still on scene.

Today we are learning more about a possible motive in the case.

Court documents say Romanchuk loaned Blankenship $100.

Romanchuk's wife told officers that her husband had confronted Blankenship several times about the money. And then on January 15, Romanchuk went missing.

The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office says they searched for his truck and posted signs with no leads.

Romanchuk's truck was found in the Sun Valley Lodge parking lot in February. But it wasn't until two days ago that there was a suspect in the case.

That's when authorities say Blankenship walked into the sheriff’s office and said, “I'm here to tell you something really bad.”

According to court documents, Blankenship admitted to killing a man, who he identified as Romanchuk, in self defense, then burying him in the backyard.

Investigators found a body Thursday in a pile of leaves.

"As we were going around the property we found a partially decomposing body, an unidentified body at this time,” said Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey.

The Ada County Coroner's Office requested the assistance of their forensic anthropologists. An autopsy on the badly decomposed body was completed today in Boise. The autopsy revealed multiple gunshot wounds on the victim, and the cause of death is a gunshot wound to the chest.

Positive identification will come through dental records, according to the coroner.

Blankenship has been charged with second-degree murder and is being held on $500,000 bond.

There are still many questions surrounding this case. One of them is why Blankenship turned himself in now, four months after the crime.

We asked the sheriff if Blankenship said why he waited this long, and he said he did not know.

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