Warrant in Bebb-Jones murder case signed in ‘08
GarCo DA cites other crimes, extradition as reasons for delay
A Garfield County District Court judge signed an arrest warrant more than a year ago for a former Grand Junction man accused of murdering his wife, but authorities say they didn’t nab him overseas until this week because of a heavy caseload and a cumbersome extradition process.
District Attorney Martin Beeson said Thursday a judge signed a no-bond warrant for 46-year-old Marcus Bebb-Jones on July 15, 2008. But members of an extradition unit of the New Scotland Yard in London didn’t show up on Bebb-Jones’ doorstep until early Wednesday morning.
“Bear in mind that our office doesn’t stop investigating other crimes,” Beeson said. “We’ve had a lot on our plates. Plus, we’ve had to do appropriate research into what goes into making a request for extradition.”
Bebb-Jones is charged with first-degree murder and other counts in the slaying of 31-year-old Sabrina Bebb-Jones. A woman staying in Grand Junction at the Hotel Melrose, which the Bebb-Joneses owned at the time, reported Sabrina missing in September 1997. That triggered a flurry of events, including Marcus Bebb-Jones attempting suicide in a Las Vegas hotel room days after Sabrina was reported missing.
Sabrina’s skull was found near Douglas Pass in Garfield County in 2004. The cause of her death remains unknown.
Now that Bebb-Jones is in custody, Beeson said accolades are due to investigators who stuck with the case for 12 years.
“I guess if there’s any relief or any reward, it belongs to the law enforcement agencies that were involved in the investigation,” he said, crediting Garfield County Sheriff’s Department Detective Eric Ashworth and Cmdr. Bill Middleton, who were the lead investigators, and the Grand Junction Police Department, which conducted the initial investigation.
“All of the law-enforcement agencies have been dedicated professionals, and without them we wouldn’t have gotten to this point,” Beeson said.
Grand Junction police collected evidence and interviewed multiple witnesses following Sabrina’s disappearance. But with Bebb-Jones refusing to be interviewed and without knowing what had become of Sabrina, detectives had nothing to go on. The case was dormant until the discovery of Sabrina’s skull.
Beeson said Garfield County sheriff’s investigators picked up the case at that point and eventually presented it to his predecessor, Colleen Truden. But Truden, whom voters recalled in 2005, declined to pursue charges, according to Beeson.
The Daily Sentinel was unable to find a phone listing for Truden to reach her for comment Thursday.
Beeson, who became district attorney in 2006, said he asked the Sheriff’s Department to essentially start the investigation over and re-interview witnesses.
“We obviously wanted to achieve justice for Sabrina,” he said.
Part of that effort took Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cheney, Ashworth and Middleton to the United Kingdom in December 2007 to interview multiple witnesses, some of whom were in western Colorado at the time of Sabrina’s disappearance but had since moved overseas.
Bebb-Jones also was in the United Kingdom. But he never cooperated with the investigation, according to authorities. In fact, after moving back to his native England in 1998, he became a professional poker player, accumulating more than $200,000 in winnings since 2007.
Garfield County authorities had to prepare a lengthy affidavit in support of a request for extradition to explain why Bebb-Jones should be returned to the U.S. The affidavit wound through the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the American Embassy in London. Officials also had to ensure it met the requirements of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and England, Beeson said.
Beeson said it could take several months or even a year before Bebb-Jones is returned to Colorado. An initial extradition hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.
Many of the details of what led authorities to arrest Bebb-Jones remain unknown.
An arrest affidavit was still sealed as of late Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, British poker Web sites were abuzz a day after Bebb-Jones’ arrest was made public.
“I have sat with Marcus many times at Walsall (the location of a poker tournament), and was amazed and shocked to read the account of his life,” a person with the screen name “Foggy” wrote on blondepoker.com. “Just goes to show that away from the tables and the forums, people have (many) different lives and secrets.”
“Hope he’s innocent and gets off,” wrote another person with the screen name “thetank.”