Two arrested in 2015 I-70 rest area stabbing

Ryan Summerlin
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Delbert Willeford

DNA evidence led to the arrest Thursday of a couple in Texas in connection with a stabbing almost a year ago along Interstate 70 at the No Name rest area.

On Sept. 15, a woman was stabbed in an attempted robbery in the women’s bathroom at the rest area east of Glenwood Springs, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Cincinnati woman and her sister were on a road trip helping the victim’s daughter move to Los Angeles.

Pulling into the rest area at night, she noticed several cars parked and felt reasonably safe, she later told investigators.

The two went to the bathroom, but coming out of their stalls they were confronted by a man holding a large, black knife, his face covered by a bandana. He demanded their belongings and pushed one to the ground.

The sister later said he’d threatened to kill them.

Trying to protect her sister, the victim charged the man and tried to beat him, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.

He lunged at her, and at first she didn’t realize that she’d been stabbed.

But lifting her shirt she saw a lot of blood. She’d been stabbed in the chest.

“The male party told her to stay in the bathroom and not follow him when he left or he would kill them,” according to an affidavit.

He took the victim’s purse, which held her iPhone and credit cards, and fled the bathroom.

At Valley View Hospital, physicians would say the stab wound was a little more than 1 centimeter deep, but still enough to possibly puncture her diaphragm and be considered serious bodily injury, according to an affidavit.

She also had other cuts on her abdomen and arm.

Other witnesses at the rest area saw a man flee into the passenger seat of a truck that sped away.

Camera footage on I-70 in Glenwood Canyon allowed investigators to identify the vehicle they believed to be involved as an extended cab Ford F-150 with a piece of poster board covering the rear passenger-side window.

Using an iPhone locator application, deputies tracked the victim’s phone to the side of the interstate near the rest area, where it apparently was tossed out a vehicle window.

Days later, an Eagle County employee found the victim’s credit card in a pair of pants discarded at the side of a road south of Eagle. At this location investigators also found a pair of shoes and a piece of poster board believed to have been in the truck window.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation was able to pull “partial latent fingerprints” from the cellphone case. Suspect profiles were developed from DNA on a pair of glasses left at the scene and the cellphone case.

On July 20, Garfield County investigators were informed by Colorado Bureau of Investigation that these profiles matched up with the Missouri Offender Database for a 55-year-old Delbert Willeford.

Investigators found Willeford and 47-year-old Amy Kent had been arrested in Chaffee County in a stolen Ford F-150 only five days after the stabbing.

This case would lead investigators to collaborate with law enforcement agencies across Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas to trace the pair’s movements and criminal history.

Willeford’s criminal history covers Colorado, Missouri and Texas and includes charges of motor vehicle theft, tampering with a motor vehicle, concealed weapons, unlawful use of a weapon and theft. Kent has a criminal history of arrests for fraud, forgery, larceny, attempt to influence a public servant, false reporting, criminal impersonation and driving under restraint, according to an affidavit.

A week before the stabbing, Willeford was arrested by police in Ozark, Missouri, after fleeing on a stolen motorcycle and crashing. Police found knives and a handgun on him.

The sheriff’s investigators believe Kent was the driver in the Ford F-150 the night of the stabbing, and they believe she would have known the vehicle was stolen at the time, according to an affidavit.

Both Willeford and Kent were arrested Thursday in Gonzalez County, Texas, on charges of attempted first-degree murder, a class 2 felony; aggravated robbery, a class 3 felony; first-degree assault, a class 3 felony; menacing, a class 5 felony; along with harassment and theft, both misdemeanors.

Kent was also charged with first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, a class 5 felony.


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