Police built circumstantial case against suspect in 1997 murder
In attempting to piece together why Sabrina Bebb-Jones vanished from Grand Junction 12 years ago and how her skull subsequently ended up near a scrub oak tree on a western Colorado mountain pass, authorities never determined how she died.
Investigators found no eyewitnesses and turned up no murder weapon.
Instead, when they asked a judge last year to sign an arrest warrant for 46-year-old Marcus Bebb-Jones in his wife’s slaying, they did so having built their case on a heap of circumstantial evidence.
Bebb-Jones made varying statements to witnesses about what happened to his wife. Police found Sabrina’s blood inside the couple’s Dodge minivan, along with evidence that the exterior and interior of the vehicle were cleaned the day after she disappeared.w
Bebb-Jones charged thousands of dollars to his wife’s credit cards in Las Vegas days after she disappeared, then shot himself in the head in a suicide attempt. And there was talk of divorce immediately before Sabrina vanished.
Those are among the allegations outlined in a 39-page arrest affidavit, a copy of which was obtained Friday by The Daily Sentinel.
Bebb-Jones was arrested this week at his home in his native England, where he moved a year after his wife disappeared. He is being held without bond pending extradition to Colorado.
The man who has won more than $200,000 as a professional poker player in England the past two years is charged with first-degree murder, concealing death and domestic violence. He faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted.
The affidavit, written by Garfield County sheriff’s Detective Eric Ashworth, laid out law enforcement’s case against Bebb-Jones as follows:
An employee of the Hotel Melrose, which the Bebb-Joneses owned during the mid-1990s, reported Sabrina missing on Sept. 18, 1997. She told police Bebb-Jones told her that the two had gotten into an argument at Mesa Mall and Sabrina walked off two days earlier. A friend of Sabrina’s later said Bebb-Jones told her they got into a fight at Dinosaur National Monument in northwestern Colorado.
A woman who provided day care for the couple’s 3-year-old son, Daniel, told police Sabrina had asked her to watch Daniel on Sept. 16 because she and Bebb-Jones planned to take a day trip to Dinosaur National Monument.
The woman said both Sabrina and Marcus Bebb-Jones dropped off their son that morning, but only Marcus Bebb-Jones showed up to pick up Daniel later that evening.
“(The woman) stated that Marcus appeared to be in a hurry to leave, stating that he usually would stand around and talk to her for a bit,” Ashworth wrote in the affidavit.
Bebb-Jones left for Las Vegas with Daniel on Sept. 17, telling hotel employees that he was going to look for Sabrina there because she had family there. One of the employees told police that Bebb-Jones told her not to call police to report his wife missing.
The employee also said Bebb-Jones had taken the minivan to the car wash and had both the interior and exterior cleaned, even though she thought the vehicle was already “sparkling clean.”
She said she discovered one of the floor mats was soaking wet. Police later found Sabrina’s blood inside the van.
On Sept. 21, Daniel was found alone in a Las Vegas hotel room and taken into state custody. The next day, a maid at another hotel found Bebb-Jones inside a room, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Bebb-Jones, who survived the suicide attempt, refused to talk to police.
Detectives later learned that someone had charged nearly $5,700 on Sabrina’s credit cards in Las Vegas. Another $7,000 in charges were refused. The expenses included hotel rooms, cash advances at casinos and a $2,000 car rental from a place called Rent a Vette.
A friend of Bebb-Jones told police Bebb-Jones told him that he wanted to go out in style and that he was a “mother-(expletive) idiot.”
Bebb-Jones told him he rented a Ferrari and hired three or four prostitutes.
Bebb-Jones and his son moved back to England in 1998 after Bebb-Jones sold the Hotel Melrose and gained conservatorship of Sabrina’s possessions.
The following year, police interviewed a woman who worked as a dealer in Las Vegas who said she briefly dated Bebb-Jones. She said Bebb-Jones told her that Sabrina ran off with another man and was living in San Diego.
“(The woman) stated that Marcus was very evasive about providing any further information about his wife and would state that it was too painful to talk about her,” Ashworth wrote in the affidavit.
That account differed from what a man who worked with Bebb-Jones selling telephone service in the United Kingdom told police during a 2007 interview.
In that interview, the man said Bebb-Jones told him he and Sabrina had divorced and “that some marriages just don’t work.”
The case was dormant from 1998 until 2004, when a rancher found a human skull — it was later identified as Sabrina’s — near Douglas Pass, which sits about halfway between Dinosaur National Monument and Grand Junction.
In the same vicinity as the skull, investigators also found and collected a metal hide-a-key case with a Plymouth-style key, a few scraps of clothing and purple thistle flowers that were located on the undercarriage of the Bebb-Joneses’ van in 1997.
One witness told police that Bebb-Jones had told her after Sabrina disappeared that he felt Sabrina was going to ask him for a divorce. Sabrina’s mother, meanwhile, told police that Sabrina called her a month before she disappeared and indicated that Bebb-Jones told her he wanted a divorce.