Police arrest man, identify woman found dead in motel

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SALT LAKE CITY — A woman found under a mattress at a Salt Lake motel may have been dead four or five days before her body was discovered.

The woman was identified Friday as Jessica Irene Jensen, of Layton. According to court records, her 26th birthday would have been Monday, when she may already have been dead.

Jessica Jensen's body was found in a motel Thursday morning.
Jessica Jensen's body was found in a motel Thursday morning.

Salt Lake police have arrested a man and booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of murder in connection with Jensen's death.

Thursday, detectives announced they were looking for Thomas Kumalac, 28, for questioning to find out what he knew about a woman's body found in Room 12 at the Capitol Motel at 1749 S. State.

The state medical examiner believes Jensen had been dead four to five days before her body was found early Thursday, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

Investigators found Kumalac late Thursday as he allegedly tried to flee to Wendover. Detectives took him in for questioning. Just after 2 a.m. Friday, police announced he had been arrested in her death.

"He admitted to actively causing her death," the report states.

Kumalac had rented the room from May 27 through May 31. He used his identification card from New Jersey to rent the room, according to the report.

Thomas Kumalac
Thomas Kumalac

Police identified Jensen through fingerprints and located her stepmother. She said she was familiar with Kumalac and his girlfriend and that he had given her stepdaughter a ride to Salt Lake City in December of 2009, the report states.

Jensen's father, acting as the family spokesman, released a brief statement Friday.

"On behalf of the entire family of Jessica Jensen, we would like to thank everyone for their expressions of sympathy during this very trying time. Words cannot express how we feel at the loss of our 'baby girl.' She is sorely missed by us all. The professionalism of the Salt Lake City police personnel as well that of the Layton officer is also very appreciated. At this time, Jessica’s family is grieving and does not wish to comment further."

Kumalac was booked into jail for investigation of murder, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

The investigation began Wednesday night when a woman checked into the same motel room and complained to management about a horrible smell. When a hotel staff member went to check it out, they lifted the mattress off the bed and found the body of a woman, covered by a towel, inside the wooden box bed frame.

The cause of death has not been released.


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Pat Reavy


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