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Missing elderly Lakewood man was beaten to death in his home, tossed in Denver dumpster, affidavit says

One of the three suspects arrested in connection with the disappearance of 81-year-old Gail Wilson detailed what happened to investigators, police say.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Content Warning: This article includes topics that may be sensitive for some readers, including violence. 

An elderly Lakewood man who was reported missing in October 2021 was beaten to death in the upstairs hallway of his home, then wrapped in black plastic before his body was eventually dumped in a Denver dumpster, according to an arrest affidavit from the Lakewood Police Department (LPD).

Documents related to the disappearance and killing of Gail Wilson had remained sealed until now.

>The video above is from a November report about the crime.

Savannah Wilson, 24, and Ricardo Perez, 35, who both lived with Gail Wilson, were arrested on Nov. 11 in connection with the case. Jay Griffith, another roommate, was arrested a week later.

Credit: KUSA
Gail Wilson

On Nov. 1, 2021, LPD agents responded to 81-year-old Gail Wilson's home on Reed Street around 6:30 p.m. after several concerned family members reported that they had been unable to get in touch with him, the arrest affidavit says.

Those family members said he had not shown up for planned family events the night before and the fact that he was not answering his phone was "extremely unusual", the document says.

RELATED: 3rd suspect arrested in disappearance of 81-year-old Lakewood man

When at the home, agents contacted Perez and Savannah Wilson, the affidavit says. Savannah Wilson reported that Gail Wilson had left in his truck to run errands around 3 p.m. on Oct. 31 and had never returned, according to the affidavit.

She described Gail Wilson as a "homebody" and said that he lost his wife in May 2021 and was "taking it hard," but she didn't believe he would harm himself, the affidavit says.

Suspicious contact reported by Perez's probation officer

Early in the investigation, a Denver probation officer (PO) for Perez contacted LPD about a "suspicious contact" he had had with Perez, the affidavit says. The PO reported that he had a scheduled meeting with Perez on Nov. 1 and during that meeting, Perez "gave very odd information," and discussed a recent "angry argument" with Gail Wilson, who is identified as Savannah's father in the affidavit.

Perez talked about paying Gail Wilson $1,000 for rent and then said that Gail Wilson had left and never returned, the affidavit says. Perez went on to explain to the PO that that was the reason he had contact with law enforcement.

The PO also said he noticed a large cut on Perez's hand asked him about it, the affidavit says. Perez told the PO he had sliced it on a tomato slicer machine, according to the document. The PO said he felt Perez's answers to his questions were "over explanative and odd" and wanted to report it to LPD "in case there was a missing person report."

Statements from Gail Wilson's relatives

Detectives began interviewing relatives of Gail Wilson and learned from his adoptive daughter that Gail Wilson's wife died in May 2021 and that the next month, Savannah Wilson and Perez moved into his home. Griffith also eventually moved in, his adoptive daughter reported. 

She said the three of them were supposed to be paying rent but said that she spoke with Gail Wilson "consistently" and he was "very upset" because none of them paid rent, bought any groceries, or helped around the house, the affidavit says.

She reported that she spoke to Gail Wilson on the phone on Oct. 29 and described him as "being in tears and very upset" over an altercation he'd had with Savannah Wilson and Perez.

Gail Wilson had said that Perez had been driving his truck without his knowledge and had damaged it, which prompted Gail Wilson to take his keys from Perez, the affidavit says. 

At that time, the affidavit says, Perez got in Gail Wilson's face and yelled at him. His adoptive daughter asked if the argument was "physical" and Gail Wilson declined to answer, according to the affidavit.

She reported that every Sunday evening Gail Wilson came to her house for game night and said it was a "longstanding tradition" and that he "never missed a night". He confirmed on Oct. 30 that he was coming over the following night and was "looking forward to beating them at cards," according to the document.

Detectives interviewed the grandson of Gail Wilson, who had lived with him for about three years, the affidavit says. 

He reported that he had lived there until the summer of 2021 and was "kicked out" after Savannah Wilson and the others moved in, the affidavit says.

He explained, according to the affidavit, that Savannah Wilson had "a lot of influence" over Gail Wilson, and believed that she "manipulated" him into kicking him out.

After learning that Gail Wilson was missing, the grandson said that he spoke with Savannah Wilson and became "immediately suspicious" when she said he had left to run errands.

He reported in the years he had lived there he had never heard Gail Wilson use the word "errands". He said anytime Gail Wilson left the house he provided specific information about where he was going, such as to the bank or to the grocery store, according to the affidavit.

Gail Wilson's biological son reported that he had plans to meet up with Gail Wilson on Oct. 31 and could not reach him, the affidavit says. He reported that he tried to get into his father's house to see him, but Savannah Wilson "would not let him in," according to the affidavit.

Investigators "pinged" two phones belonging to Gail Wilson which pinged in Denver in the area of East 10th Avenue and Pearl Street on the evening of Oct. 31 and the morning of Nov. 1.

When asked about that, his children said Gail Wilson "never went downtown" and hated driving in that area, the affidavit says.

RELATED: Relative among 2 arrested in connection with presumed death of 81-year-old man

Statements from Savannah Wilson and Ricardo Perez

Savannah Wilson told investigators the three roommates gave Gail Wilson $1,000 in cash for rent as they "routinely did" and reported that Gail Wilson left to run errands around 3 p.m. on Oct. 31 and never returned. She was unable to say what those errands were, the affidavit says.

When interviewed, a detective noticed an "obvious cut" on Perez's hand and when asked about it, he provided the detective with a "completely different account" of how he got the injury than what he had previously told his PO.

This time, he told the detective the dogs were trying to get out of the home and he somehow cut his hand at the front door while trying to keep them inside, the affidavit says. 

The detective also noted that Perez repeatedly referred to Gail Wilson in the past tense, according to the document.

Savannah Wilson admitted to detectives in the days before Gail Wilson's murder that she and Perez watched videos on YouTube about where trash goes after the trash company picks it up, the affidavit says.

Search warrant executed

Based on the circumstances of his disappearance, a search warrant was granted for Gail Wilson's home on Nov. 4. Detectives observed the following:

  • Large section of cut-out carpet stretching from the hallway near the bathroom to the bedroom of Savannah Wilson and Perez
  • Towels covering area of removed carpet
  • Large staining on the subfloor once the towels were removed
  • Stain tested positive for blood
  • Visible spatter in various locations that also tested positive for blood

When asked about the missing carpet, both Savannah Wilson and Perez said they were painting the bedroom pink and had spilled paint and that Gail Wilson was home when that happened, the affidavit says.

They also reported that they rolled up the carpet and put it out with the trash on Nov. 3, the affidavit says. When the detective asked where they had started painting, they explained that the paint has spilled prior to them doing any painting, the affidavit says.

Gail Wilson's truck located

Detectives located a video of Gail Wilson's truck driving in Lakewood and Denver on Oct. 31 between 3 and 4 p.m. and it appeared to have rolled-up carpet in the back "consistent with the missing carpet from the home", the affidavit says.

The truck was seen in another video shortly after 4 p.m., but this time the items in the back were gone, according to the affidavit.

On Nov. 5, a detective was driving in the area where the truck had last been seen and located the truck with its windows down and the keys in the ignition, the affidavit says.

Credit: Lakewood Police
Lakewood Police say Gail Wilson's own truck was used to distribute his body around Denver's downtown.

During a search of the truck carpet fibers matching the carpet from the home were located, according to the affidavit. Additional videos located by detectives showed that at one point, multiple items were in the back of the truck. They included:

  • Rolled up carpet
  • White laundry basket or storage container
  • Black trash bag

Based on videos, the items were last seen in the truck bed at 3:43 p.m. and had been removed by 4:26 p.m  

On Nov. 9, an additional video from the alley at 1114 Lafayette St. in Denver was located that showed Gail Wilson's truck with only one black trash bag in the bed, the affidavit says. That, according to the affidavit, showed that the "evidence" was being "dumped throughout the area" in multiple dumpsters.

This video also showed two occupants in the truck, the affidavit says.

Jay Griffith details crime

Jay Griffith also initially reported that the three of them gave Gail Wilson cash for rent as they had always done since they moved into the home in June, the affidavit says. He too, said Gail Wilson left around 3 p.m. for errands and never returned, according to the affidavit.

On Nov. 11, Perez was arrested at the home on Reed Street on outstanding warrants. Both Savannah Wilson and Griffith were there at the time of the arrest and were taken to the police station for interviews, the affidavit says.

Griffith was told he was not in custody and was free to leave at any time, the affidavit says, however he decided to make a statement to police that detailed the crime.

He admitted he was in the home when Gail Wilson was killed, the affidavit says. Griffith said Gail Wilson tripped and fell in an upstairs hallway and that he saw Perez go up to him and "finish him off," according to the document. Griffith said Perez beat Gail Wilson with his fists and that Savannah Wilson was sitting on the couch in the living and also saw what happened, the affidavit says.

He reported that he went to the basement as the beating continued and came back upstairs about 20 minutes later, according to the affidavit. At that time, Griffith said he found Gail Wilson deceased partially in a bedroom and partially in the hallway, the affidavit says

Griffith reported blood on the bedroom walls, hallway walls, the carpet, and Perez's hands, according to the affidavit.

He reported that Perez told him to get some plastic from the garage and he went and retrieved what he described as black roofing plastic, the affidavit says. Griffith said he cut the plastic and then he and Perez laid out and placed Gail Wilson's body on it and wrapped it up, the affidavit says.

Griffith reported that Perez told him to get duct tape and he found some black Gorilla tape and Perez used it to secure the plastic around Gail Wilson's body, according to the affidavit.

Griffith said Perez then used a box cutter to remove the carpet, according to the affidavit. Griffith said he carried the carpet, two trash bags, and a white hamper outside near Gail Wilson's truck, the document says.

The two of them then carried Gail Wilson's body out to the truck, placed it in the bed and put the other items on top of it, according to the affidavit. 

Griffith said they drove Gail Wilson's truck to the Cherry Creek area of Denver and removed all of the evidence and placed it in a dumpster in an alley, according to the affidavit. He said they drove for a while before eventually removing Gail Wilson's body from the truck bed and placing it in a different dumpster, the document says.

After that, Griffith said, they abandoned the truck and walked to a nearby park where they changed clothes in a portable restroom, placed their clothes in trash bags, and threw them away in a park trash can, the affidavit says.

The affidavit says Griffith told investigators they got on a bus and went home.

Griffith agreed to assist investigators with efforts to locate the dumpsters where the items were dumped, the affidavit says. Over a one-week period, he went with detectives and located the dumpster where he believed the evidence was dumped, but not Gail Wilson's body.

He was later able to find a dumpster where he thought they had placed his body but was "not positive," the affidavit says.

When asked Friday, Lakewood Police would not say whether they had located the evidence or Gail Wilson's remains citing the "open investigation".

Credit: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Ricardo Perez

Perez is now charged with the following:

  • First-degree murder after deliberation
  • Tampering with a deceased human body
  • Attempt to influence a public servant
  • Tampering with physical evidence

He also faces a violent crime sentence enhancer count, which means if he's convicted, it would increase possible penalties.

Credit: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Savannah Wilson

Savannah Wilson is now charged with the following:

  • Accessory to a crime
  • Attempting to influence a public servant
  • Tampering with physical evidence
Credit: Lakewood PD
Jay Griffith

Jay Griffith is charged with:

  • Tampering with a deceased human body
  • Accessory to a crime
  • Tampering with physical evidence

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