A taxi driver's violent death is the latest in a string of tragedies for a local family with deep roots in the Rogue Valley.
Bettie Huson, 89, of Talent, is struggling to keep her family together as it mourns the sudden loss of her son, William Roy "Huey" Huson, a taxi driver shot to death during an apparent robbery over the weekend.
"I can't imagine why anyone would do that," she said.
Huson, who lost her parents in a car crash and her husband in a hunting accident, said she was very close to her son, who lived across from her in the mobile home park.
"I would feel safe when he came home," she said.
Her son was shot in the head sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. His body was dumped in a field on Helo Drive, west of the intersection of Vilas Road and Highway 62, according to Medford police.
The well-known taxi driver, who turned 58 on Saturday, made his last radio contact at 10:40 that night with Valley Cab and Limousine near Howiee's on Front in downtown Medford, police said.
Huson told his dispatcher he was taking a fare to Vilas Road. Valley Cab called police at 1:02 a.m. to report he was missing.
Officers found Huson's taxi at 5:02 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot near Ninth and Almond streets, just east of Interstate 5 near downtown Medford.
Police said investigators discovered evidence in the car that indicated a serious crime had occurred.
Huson's body was discovered in a field at 8:23 a.m. Sunday.
Medford police Chief Tim George said investigators are pursuing every lead to catch the suspect.
"This is job one," he said. "That is our focus night and day."
Those who were in the vicinity of Howiee's Saturday night or who might have information on the case are urged to call 541-770-4783 or visit www.tipsubmit.com to make an anonymous tip.
George said tips already have come in that could help in the investigation.
"We encourage anyone with information, whether they think it's vital or not, to call us," he said.
The Huson family hopes police can get Huey's killer off the streets as soon as possible.
"It won't bring him back, but it will make some of us feel better," Bettie Huson said.
The Huson family has had a long history in Jackson County. Bettie's brother, Darrell Huson, was a recorder-treasurer for the city of Medford, retiring in 1972. Her husband, Ray Huson, dressed as Santa Claus every Christmas for Medford merchants.
Bettie Huson and a longtime family friend, Theda Havice, 78, of Medford, who stopped by Bettie's home Tuesday to comfort her, remembered Huey as a rambunctious youngster. He went to Medford High School, was a talented chef and worked at the Medford Hotel and the Moose Lodge before becoming a cab driver, they said.
Huey would stop by after work to make sure his mother was all right, Bettie Huson said.
"We did a lot of cooking," she said. "He loved to bake."
She said the tragedy has been difficult on William's wife, Susan, their two grown children, and his sister, Suzanne Trombino, 53, who is also dealing with the worsening health of her husband.
Huey's death is one of many tragedies the Huson family has suffered over the years. Bettie's parents died in a car crash in White City in 1963. Her husband died when he fell down a hill in a hunting accident in 1977. Several other family members and friends have either fallen ill or died this year.
"Your family has just been decimated in the last three months," Havice told her friend.
Bettie Huson doesn't recall her son ever mentioning that anything dangerous had happened during his years as a cab driver.
"I don't think he worried about it," she said.
Havice said Huey was well-known and well-liked in the community.
"He was always so kind to everybody," she said.
Valley Cab has set up a donation fund for the family, which is struggling to pay for cremation services, at South Valley Bank & Trust in the name of Bill "Huey" Huson. Contributions can be made at any South Valley branch.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.