Ex-Grand Junction man arrested in wife’s murder
A former Grand Junction hotel owner who became a successful professional poker player in his native England after his wife disappeared in western Colorado in 1997 has been arrested, accused of killing her and dumping her body.
Marcus Bebb-Jones, 46, was taken into custody early Tuesday morning at his home in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, after a Garfield County warrant was issued Oct. 30, the London Times reported on its Web site Wednesday.
Neither Garfield County District Attorney Martin Beeson nor Sheriff Lou Vallario returned messages left on their cell phones late Wednesday.
Bebb-Jones is suspected of killing his wife, 33-year-old Sabrina, in September 1997 while the two were running the Hotel Melrose on Colorado Avenue.
An Englishwoman staying at the hotel reported Sabrina missing to Grand Junction police that month after Bebb-Jones told her Sabrina left town following an argument.
Bebb-Jones and the couple’s 3-year-old son, Daniel, then left Grand Junction, telling the Englishwoman they were going to look for Sabrina in Las Vegas, where she grew up and had family. Days later, Daniel was found alone in a Las Vegas motel room and Bebb-Jones attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. The bullet left only a grazing wound, and Bebb-Jones wasn’t seriously injured.
In 1998, Bebb-Jones was granted conservatorship of his wife’s possessions. He sold the hotel, and he and his son moved back to England to be with his mother.
The case was cold until a rancher driving cattle near the summit of Douglas Pass in 2004 found a human skull that was later identified as Sabrina’s. The location of the skull prompted Grand Junction police to turn the investigation over to Garfield County authorities.
Investigators had long suspected Bebb-Jones was involved in his wife’s death, but he repeatedly declined to talk to them, and his move back to his home country did nothing to advance the investigation. Turmoil within the Garfield County District Attorney’s Office earlier this decade also stalled the investigation.
Bebb-Jones, meanwhile, become something of a local celebrity when he decided to take up gambling professionally in 2005. He has amassed more than $200,000 in winnings since 2007.
The Daily Sentinel chronicled Bebb-Jones’s life as a poker player and updated the investigation into Sabrina’s death in a May 2008 article. Garfield County investigators at the time would only say the probe into Bebb-Jones was ongoing.
It’s unclear what prompted Bebb-Jones’ arrest this week. But Aaron Watkins, a London-based attorney who appeared in a Westminster court on behalf of U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday, offered some details that hadn’t been previously made public, according to the Times.
Watkins said Bebb-Jones “lived a playboy lifestyle” during those days he was in Las Vegas in 1997. He said Bebb-Jones spent thousands of dollars in Las Vegas, using credit cards in his wife’s name to pay for some of his expenditures. Watkins also indicated that Bebb-Jones was found in possession of a number of items that would have been in Sabrina’s purse, the Times reported.
In addition, Watkins said Sabrina’s blood was found in several places in the couple’s van, despite Bebb-Jones’ efforts to clean the vehicle, the Times reported.
It’s unclear if or when Bebb-Jones will be extradited back to Colorado. The Times reported Bebb-Jones is due back in court on Nov. 26.