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Victim, suspects identified in ‘convoluted’ Rapid City motel homicide, kidnapping
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Victim, suspects identified in ‘convoluted’ Rapid City motel homicide, kidnapping

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Jesus Vance, a 20-year-old from Rapid City, was shot dead inside Room 230 at the South Dakota Rose Inn on Friday afternoon. 

Five suspects have been identified in relation to a Friday Rapid City homicide but none are charged with murder and four are accused of assaulting and kidnapping the fifth defendant. 

The homicide involves a shooting inside a motel room, a group that fled in two vehicles, a standoff with people from one of those cars, two at-large suspects, kidnapping and possibly meth distribution, according to the Rapid City Police Department.

Paramedics also found a holster and magazine but no gun on the fifth defendant who was kidnapped and assaulted, according to his police report. 

This case is “very convoluted” and “very, very far from being wrapped up,” police spokesman Brendyn Medina said Monday.

Jesus Vance, a 20-year-old from Rapid City, was found shot to death inside a room at the South Dakota Rose Inn on East Boulevard North on Friday afternoon.

Detectives are still trying to determine who is responsible for shooting Vance, if anyone assisted with the killing, and if people are now trying to help cover it up, Medina said.

“You’ve got people who run and people who don’t want to talk to the police and witnesses who only give half truths in information they provide because they want to protect someone else,” he said. “This is one of those cases that tests your skills as a detective.”

He cited the ongoing investigation while declining to comment on whether the gun used in the shooting has been recovered and how the alleged kidnapping and assault of one of the defendants relates to the homicide. 

The South Dakota Rose Inn is owned by Pennington County Commissioner Deb Hadcock, according to records with the Secretary of State.

Hadcock was seen Monday afternoon helping housekeepers clean the room where the shooting took place. There was a blood stain on the carpet toward the back of the messy room, which had a broken window.

Someone was seen on surveillance footage breaking the window with their foot sometime after the shooting, Hadcock said.

Hadcock declined to comment further. She did not immediately return a message later Monday.

Following the shooting on Friday afternoon, the Journal returned on Monday to the South Dakota Rose Inn.

Charges, police report

The five suspects are all from Rapid City. 

Jake Williams, 37, is charged with meth possession.

Gilbert Reyna, 38, is charged with aggravated assault and aiding and abetting second-degree kidnapping for allegedly kidnapping Williams and using a "cutting instrument" against him, according to his complaint. 

William Long, Tracy Laughlin and Travis Nelson are charged with aiding and abetting the aggravated assault and kidnapping against Williams. 

Williams, Reyna and Long, 55, have all been arrested while Laughlin, 32, and Nelson, 35, have warrants for their arrest. 

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Tracy Laughlin

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Travis Nelson

Laughlin and Nelson were seen on surveillance footage running into the vehicles that fled the motel after the shooting, Medina said. However, they escaped before police pulled the cars over on Friday afternoon.

Reyna, Long, Laughlin and Nelson all have probable cause affidavits and no contact orders against them that are sealed. However, Williams has a police report that provides some insight into the Friday afternoon incident. 

What follows is alleged in the police report:

Officers found Williams outside the motel and paramedics took him to the hospital where doctors stapled four cuts to his head. Medics told an arriving officer that they found a holster and magazine on Williams, who was discharged after a CT scan found no internal injuries. 

The officer said Williams made a comment along the lines of "they stomped me out" as she walked him from the hospital to her patrol car. She asked Williams to empty his pockets and he pulled out cash and a small jeweler's bag with a "white, powdery, salt-like crystal substance."

Another officer found Williams was carrying $214 and that the substance field tested positive for meth.

The shooting, arrests

Someone called 911 around 4:15 p.m. on Friday to report shots fired at the motel, according to a Monday news release.

Officers arrived and found Williams outside the motel and Vance's body inside one of the rooms.

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Cars drive past the South Dakota Rose Inn on East Boulevard North on Monday afternoon.  

Surveillance footage showed two vehicles leaving the scene shortly after the shooting occurred, according to the release.

One of the suspect vehicles, a 2011 Hyundai Sonata, was spotted around 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Nowlin Street and Farlow Avenue, Medina said. The driver parked and the group inside the car fled inside a home, which was already filled with other people.

The group inside the house surrendered after an hour and the second car was found later that evening in the area of Cherry Avenue and East Saint James Street, Medina said.

Everyone from the house and second car were detained for questioning, Medina said. He said he didn't know how many people were detained but Williams' police report lists 21 other people, including Reyna and Long.

Officers arrested Williams, Reyna and Long, issued arrest warrants for Laughlin and Nelson, and eventually let everyone else go. 

Witness interviews lead police to believe there is a “drug distributing component” to the shooting, Medina said. Police also believe Vance and others involved in the shooting knew each other.

Long and Williams had their initial court appearances on Monday morning. Long is being held on a $500,000 cash/surety bond while Williams is detained on a federal hold. It's unclear what Williams' federal hold relates to because a search for federal charges turned up empty. 

Reyna, who is being held on a $500,000 cash-only bond, has his initial appearance scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Anyone with any information where Laughlin or Nelson are should contact police at 605-394-4131 or send an anonymous tip by texting the letters ‘RCPD’ and the information to 847411.​

— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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