A 58-year-old taxi driver was found shot to death in a field near Vilas Road Sunday morning as Medford police appeal to the public in the search for a suspect.
Talent resident William Roy Huson, who also was robbed, was found by police at 8:23 a.m. Sunday with a gunshot wound to his head, police determined.
Huson's birthday also was on Saturday, Medford police Chief Tim George said. "That's another sad piece to a sad case," George said. Police have contacted Huson's wife.
Police don't have a suspect and are appealing to eyewitnesses who might have seen Huson pick up a fare at Howiee's on Front at 16 N. Front St. at 10:40 p.m. The fare was the last radio contact Huson had with Valley Cab before the company reported him missing at 1:02 a.m.
Police are hoping for an eyewitness who might have seen the taxi in the Vilas Road area, or at a parking lot near Ninth and Almond streets where the cab was later found at 5:02 a.m.
The parking lot is just to the east of Interstate 5 between 10th and East Main streets.
George said evidence was found in the taxi that indicated a crime had occurred, prompting police to search a field on Helo Drive near Vilas Road where they found Huson's body. The field is located to the east of Crater Lake Highway.
"There was a strong concern that something bad had happened," George said.
Police found objects missing from Huson that indicate a robbery had also taken place, George said.
Because it's an ongoing investigation, George said the type of objects that are missing wouldn't be disclosed.
Valley Cab didn't have a record of a precise address on Vilas at the time of the call, which is not unusual for a taxi fare, George said.
The taxi was flagged down at Howiee's, which is a common occurrence at that time of night, George said.
Police are hoping that enough people were outside of Howie's at the time the taxi arrived to help identify the suspect. The taxi was abandoned less than a mile from Howiee's.
Police have been interviewing potential eyewitnesses in the various locations where the taxi had travelled through the night.
Because of the nature of the crime, the Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit is investigating, assisted by Medford police, the Oregon State Police, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, Ashland police and the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.
The Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) was summoned.
George said police are chasing down any videos that might have been taken at various locations to help track the suspect's movements.
However, he said police are hoping an eyewitness comes forward within 48 hours to provide additional leads. He said it is critical to get eyewitness testimony early in the investigation because memories of events fade quickly with time.
Huson was also involved in a tragic March 7, 2005 accident in which a 21-year-old Ashland skateboarder struck his taxi on Siskiyou Boulevard near South Mountain Avenue.
Evan Burke suffered from head trauma from the 2 a.m. accident and died later at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
Burke's friend, James Janousek, 21, of Ashland, told police he stopped at the intersection to look for vehicle traffic, saw the taxi and tried to warn Burke.
Burke attempted to negotiate the right-hand turn onto Siskiyou, attempting to go into the bike lane, but the momentum carried him into the path of the Yellow Cab taxi, driven by Huson. Burke struck the right front quarter of the Yellow Cab. Burke wasn't wearing a helmet.
Ashland police determined there was no evidence of criminal action against the taxi driver.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.