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The Review Journal: Pro poker player's wife is suspect in his death

William Gustafik was beginning to make a name for himself as a professional poker player.

He had garnered more than $165,000 in winnings in the nine tournaments in which he had cashed, according to an online profile.

But the career of “The Manipulator,” as he was known on the poker circuit, was cut short when he was found slain — stabbed multiple times — in the master bedroom of a Panorama Towers condominium.

Las Vegas homicide investigators confirmed Tuesday that Gustafik’s wife, Jill Rockcastle, is the suspect in her husband’s death and is in police custody at a hospital in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Gustafik was found dead Friday night in condo 2300 at the Panorama Towers, 4525 Dean Martin Drive, near Harmon Avenue and Interstate 15. Police were told by an anonymous caller Friday night that Gustafik could be found in the 2,400-square-foot unit.

Detectives were searching for Rockcastle through the weekend.

On Monday, San Luis Obispo police announced they had been told by Las Vegas police that the suspect in the killing was at the Petit Soleil Motel and was suicidal.

San Luis Obispo police found Rockcastle unconscious in her motel room. She was then hospitalized. It is unclear when her extradition from California to Clark County will happen as she remained in intensive care late Monday, said Lt. Lew Roberts of the homicide unit. “We still haven’t been able to serve her with the warrant,” he said.

The exact spark that caused the slaying was still not known, Roberts said. “It’s a domestic homicide and we have to look at all the motives that usually go with domestic homicides like money, marital problems and everyday stress,” he said.

Detectives believe they have recovered the knife used in the slaying. It was found the building, but not in the condo, Roberts said.

Gustafik and Rockcastle also owned a home in the Bay Area in San Ramon, Calif., about five hours from San Luis Obispo, Roberts said. “We don’t know why she was there,” he said.

Gustafik is described as a devoted husband and the loving father of a 9-year-old girl on the Web site PokerPages.com. “Being a chiropractor by profession, I plan to go from cracking backs to cracking the stakes of the best pro,” Gustafik is quoted as stating on the Web site.

He went pro at the 2005 World Series of Poker tournament. In 2006 he finished 280th in the $10,000 main event, which drew more than 8,700 players, and cashed in for nearly $39,000.

The first of Panorama’s four 30-story luxury condo towers opened in December. A real estate Web site lists a 2,200-square-foot Panorama condo as renting for $4,500 a month. Celebrities Pamela Anderson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey McGuire own Panorama units.

Laurence Hallier, chairman of Hallier Properties, the developer of Panorama Towers, said police asked him not to comment on the homicide.

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