Community mourns teacher who was stabbed to death

Credit: Theresa Palmgren / KTVB

Community mourns teacher who was stabbed to death

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by KTVB.COM

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 11, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 7:25 AM

ONTARIO, Ore. -- Friends and neighbors are mourning the death of a beloved teacher - Elizabeth Baune.

The 45-year-old Payette woman was found dead inside her home Wednesday night. An autopsy revealed she died of multiple stab wounds to the head and chest.

Police arrested Michael Culley, 24, of Payette, on Friday morning at a gas station just across the border in Ontario, Oregon.

Payette County Sheriff Chad Huff says charges are now pending against Culley, and the investigation continues.

Officials say Culley was a former roommate to Baune. A friend of the victim says Culley was a second cousin to Baune.

Deputies were called to a home north of Payette just before 11 p.m. Wednesday to investigate the homicide. They identified Culley as a "person of interest" shortly afterward.

Culley was believed to be driving a 2002 turquoise Honda Passport. However, sheriff's deputies say they found that vehicle abandoned in rural Payette County Thursday.

A memorial filled with roses, balloons and signs now stands outside the Head Start School in Payette where Baune taught for the past 18 years. Counselors were at the school Friday to help people cope with her death.

Neighbors knew Baune as "teacher Liz," and say she loved her job, loved kids, and was a wonderful teacher.

"She was a wonderful person, she did anything and everything she could to help her community," said Melonie Kuder, who knew both Baune and Culley.

Detectives spend the day at house where Baune was found dead searching for more evidence into this crime. They have not released a motive.

Investigators from Payette County Sheriff's Office, Payette Police Department, Fruitland Police Department and Idaho State Police are currently investigating this homicide case.

Sheriff Huff is asking anyone who may have information about the case to contact the Payette County Sheriff's Office at (208) 642-6008.

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