Affidavit details chain of events leading to arrests in case of woman found dead in a Steamboat hotel
March 18, 2013
Steamboat Springs — After discovering Gillian "Jill" Gentile's body in a Steamboat Springs hotel room they had been sharing, Sam Wisecup Jr. used the dead woman's credit card to extend her hotel stay by two nights and took off for Texas in her SUV while accompanied by another woman, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Routt County Court.
New details in the Steamboat Springs Police Department's investigation of Gentile's death over the weekend include doubts over whether her death was the result of murder. Instead, police suspect alcohol may have played a key role in the 32-year-old Yampa resident's death.
“At this point in the investigation, including preliminary autopsy results, police do not have any information that indicates homicide as the cause of death of Jill Gentile,” Chief Joel Rae said in a statement released Monday.
Rae said police found multiple empty bottles of “hard alcohol” in Gentile’s hotel room at the Quality Inn & Suites on U.S. Highway 40 in east Steamboat.
An autopsy was performed Sunday, but it could take a month for toxicology results to come back. While police are not ruling out foul play, an arrest affidavit for Wisecup Jr. filed in Routt County Court details the police investigation and the timeline of events that led to the arrest of Wisecup and his girlfriend, Kendra Parker, in Amarillo, Texas, on Saturday.
Based on hotel surveillance video and interviews with hotel employees, police think Gentile and Wisecup checked in to the Quality Inn & Suites at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. At about 7 p.m. Thursday, a friend of Wisecup's told police he saw Wisecup and Gentile in Oak Creek. The couple was driving Gentile's Kia Sorento, and the friend said Wisecup was drunk. The friend also told police that for about the past three months, Wisecup had been in an intimate relationship with both Parker and Gentile.
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Later Thursday night, Gentile called a former boyfriend, Alfred Valenti, who lives in Massachusetts. Valenti told the Steamboat Today on Saturday that Wisecup and Parker were drunk and that Gentile needed Valenti's help to mislead Wisecup's girlfriend about a relationship the two were having.
After discovering Gentile was dead Friday morning, police think Wisecup drove to Oak Creek in her car and picked up Parker from a friend's house at about 9 a.m. That friend told police Wisecup was extremely upset and that he said he had found Gentile dead on top of a trash can in the hotel room, according to the affidavit.
"It's natural for people to find a companion when something traumatic happens," Rae said Monday.
The friend said Wisecup quickly got Parker out of bed and they left the Oak Creek apartment. At about 10:45 a.m. Friday, Wisecup and Parker can be seen on surveillance video at the hotel. Wisecup walked up to the front desk and requested a two-night extension on room 215, the affidavit states. Wisecup and Parker then immediately left the hotel. Rae said Wisecup neglected, however, to put the "Do not disturb" sign on the door that likely would have kept a maid from entering the room until Sunday.
The couple then drove Gentile's Kia Sorento to Oak Creek, where Parker picked up her dog from her father's house at about noon Friday. Two hours later, Wisecup was seen driving through Oak Creek in a silver SUV. According to another police witness, Wisecup told a resident that he had driven Gentile's car to Denver on Thursday night to buy marijuana and that when he returned to Steamboat he found Gentile dead in the hotel room. Police do not think Wisecup actually went to Denver.
At about 1:30 p.m. Gentile's body was found by a hotel maid. Hotel employees quickly called 911, at which point police were notified and used the surveillance video to help identify Parker and Wisecup.
According to the warrant, police used Parker's cell phone to track the couple as they drove to Amarillo, Texas, where they were arrested by Amarillo police Saturday morning on warrants for aggravated motor vehicle theft. Three Steamboat police officers went to Amarillo and interviewed the couple.
Rae said Wisecup told police he fled because he was scared and panicked. He and Parker supposedly were on their way to New Orleans, where Wisecup had a lead on a job working on a tugboat.
Wisecup was being held without bond in an Amarillo jail, but Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle requested his bond be lowered to $10,000. He also requested Parker's bond be lowered from $10,000 to a personal recognizance bond.
Rae said the District Attorney's Office could choose to file additional charges in addition to first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft.
Police say the investigation remains active and that a final cause of death likely won’t be determined until toxicology results are known. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 970-879-1144.
Rae credited his officers and investigators with working quickly and diligently on the case. Josh Carrell is the lead Steamboat Springs Police Department investigator on the case.
"It was just a good team effort from everyone," Rae said.