Steamboat Springs A former boyfriend of Gillian “Jill” Gentile, the Yampa woman whose body was found Friday in a Steamboat Springs hotel room, said he received a concerning phone call from her the previous night.
Alfred Valenti said Gentile and Sam Wisecup were drunk at a hotel, and that Gentile said she needed Valenti’s help to mislead Wisecup’s girlfriend about a relationship the two were having.
On Saturday morning, police in Amarillo, Texas, arrested Wisecup and his girlfriend, Kendra Parker, on behalf of the Steamboat Springs Police Department. The two South Routt County residents are considered persons of interest in the death of Gentile, 32, whose body was found by a maid at about 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Quality Inn & Suites, where she checked in Wednesday night.
Steamboat Police Chief Joel Rae said Saturday that officers have surveillance footage of Parker, 22, of Yampa, and Wisecup, 29, of Oak Creek, leaving the hotel at Walton Creek Road and South Lincoln Avenue at 10:47 a.m. Friday. Police used the footage as well as interviews with hotel employees and South Routt residents to identify Wisecup and Parker.
Valenti, Gentile’s former boyfriend, said he agreed to help her when she called him from the hotel because he still considered her a good friend. Valenti said he was supposed to call Parker and tell her that he was Gentile’s boyfriend so Parker would not suspect Wisecup and Gentile were having a relationship.
“His girlfriend probably was suspicious,” Valenti said Saturday.
Although Gentile’s death is being investigated as a possible homicide, Rae said Saturday that Wisecup and Parker have not been accused of killing Gentile. They were arrested on suspicion of aggravated motor vehicle theft because police think the couple stole Gentile's 2005 Kia Sorento. The car was found in the parking lot of an Amarillo hotel where Wisecup and Parker were staying. Rae would not say how detectives tracked Wisecup and Parker to Amarillo.
Wisecup is being held without bond, and Parker's bond was set at $10,000. They will be transferred to Steamboat at some point.
According to arrest records, Wisecup has been arrested seven times since 2007 for mostly minor offenses related to two DUIs. Rae said Wisecup is considered a habitual traffic offender. He graduated from Soroco High School in 2002.
Parker does not have an arrest record. She was an honor roll student at Soroco High School, where she graduated in 2009.
Police said Saturday that they still were not sure how Gentile died. An autopsy is scheduled for noon Sunday. Rae said Gentile's body did not suffer any substantial trauma, and he would not say whether drugs or alcohol were found in her hotel room. If drugs or alcohol were involved, toxicology results likely will not be available for several weeks.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Josh Carrell at 970-879-4345. Callers also can remain anonymous by calling Routt County Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226.
An unexpected loss
Gentile worked at the Royal Hotel & Bar in Yampa, about 30 miles south of Steamboat. Nicole McGrath, who owns the Royal Hotel with her fiance, Bill Ager, said she and Gentile grew up together in Framingham, Mass., and had been best friends since they were 13. Gentile moved to Yampa in October.
“She came out here to help us at the hotel and start a new life,” McGrath said. “She was going to be my maid of honor in September.”
At the Royal Hotel, Gentile did everything from tend bar to clean rooms, and the customers loved her, McGrath said.
“For the short amount of time she was here, she made a lot of new friends,” McGrath said. “Everybody was really happy to have her here.”
Before Gentile moved to the Rocky Mountains, McGrath said her friend was a personal care attendant and had spent the past 10 years caring for a quadriplegic.
“She always put others ahead of herself,” McGrath said.
McGrath said Gentile did not work Thursday and Friday, and she thought her friend got the hotel room in Steamboat to get away from Yampa for a couple of days. McGrath said Gentile and Wisecup had been hanging out for the past couple of months and were romantically involved.
McGrath said Wisecup supposedly “was breaking it off” with Parker, his girlfriend.
McGrath said she last spoke with Gentile on Thursday and became concerned when she could not get in touch with her Friday.
She said Gentile’s parents still live in Framingham.
“They’re absolutely devastated,” McGrath said. “They feel like it was too soon for their daughter to be gone.”
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com