Ex-wife held in AZ art dealer’s death
Ex-wife held in AZ art dealer’s death
Headless torso stuffed in trash can left in desert
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 8, 2004 12:00 AM
Six weeks ago, a passer-by found Jay Orbin’s headless torso in a 50-gallon trash can in the north Phoenix desert.
On Tuesday, his ex-wife, a former Las Vegas showgirl who still lived with him, was behind bars, accused of killing Orbin – who police believe was dismembered with his own jigsaw.
Police say that on the day her former husband died, Marjorie Orbin began to liquidate his assets and a day later bought the blue Rubbermaid trash can in which his torso – frozen, thawed and mutilated – was found.
Jay, 45, was a successful dealer of Native American art who was known to gallery owners around the country. Marjorie, 43, is a former dancer and choreographer who police say told friends a year ago that she wanted to kill Jay and toss his body into the desert.
On Tuesday, Marjorie denied the charges through her lawyer and declined an interview.
The investigation focused on her too soon and didn’t consider other suspects, said Thomas Connelly, her attorney.
The killing was too physically demanding for a lone person, especially a woman, to accomplish, because Jay weighed about 250 pounds, Connelly said.
Police think the trail of clues leads directly to Marjorie.
Jay and Marjorie married in 1995 in Las Vegas. Marjorie had worked there as a performer in revues and as a choreographer for major venues, her lawyer said.
The couple moved to Phoenix and had a son in August 1996. They divorced in December 1997, although they continued to live together until Jay’s death.
Marjorie’s attorney said that they never separated and that they divorced for business reasons. Police believe Marjorie may have problems with the Internal Revenue Service and divorced her husband to protect his business assets.
Jay made a comfortable living with a Native American art dealership called Jayhawk International, said Phoenix police Detective Dave Barnes, who is investigating the case. Jay was often traveling on business three weeks out of the month. He drove all around the country selling turquoise jewelry, kachina dolls, maps, feathers, and bows and arrows, Barnes said.
For at least the past three months, Barnes said, Marjorie was dating a 60-year-old Phoenix businessman who isn’t considered a suspect in the case but is an investigative lead.
This fall, Jay’s parents started to worry when he didn’t call. They usually heard from him several times a week.
Marjorie kept telling them he was supposed to return on Sept. 20, Barnes said. When he didn’t, she called Phoenix police and reported him missing two days later.
A passer-by found Jay’s body on Oct. 23 in the desert at the southeastern corner of Tatum and Dynamite boulevards, less than two miles from his Phoenix home. His torso had been stuffed into the trash can, which was sealed shut with tape and black plastic bags. Clothes were still on the body, and detectives found keys to his vehicle, his house and his office inside the pockets.
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office thinks Jay’s body was frozen after he was shot to death. Police don’t know how long or where the body was stored. At some point, someone sawed off his limbs with an electric saw.
Authorities haven’t found the limbs or the head.
Barnes, a 37-year-old who has worked in the homicide unit for nine months, believed the body was Jay’s when it was discovered. DNA tests confirmed his suspicions.
From the start, Barnes believed Marjorie was involved.
His investigation turned up clue after clue that pointed toher, he said.
Marjorie told police that she had last seen Jay on Aug. 28, their son’s birthday, and that he then left town on business.
According to court records, though, Jay’s credit card was used in Phoenix as recently as Sept. 8.
Police believe he was killed that day or the next, his birthday.
Starting Sept. 9, Marjorie began liquidating Jay’s personal and business assets, totaling more than $100,000, according to the records. Barnes learned that she was draining bank accounts and selling merchandise from the business.
Marjorie, who was the beneficiary for insurance policies totaling $1 million, wasn’t authorized to use the cards.
But Connelly said she had used them for the past 10 years and was selling the assets to pay bills.
On Sept. 10, a video camera captured Marjorie using Jay’s credit card at a Scottsdale Lowe’s store. She bought two 50-gallon Rubbermaid containers and black plastic bags, Barnes said.
When Jay’s body was found, it was in a container that matched the two Marjorie had bought, down to the UPC code and color.
Two days before Marjorie reported Jay missing, several people received phone calls from his cell phone but never spoke to him, they told police. Barnes uncovered phone records that show that at every cell tower that transmitted those calls, Marjorie’s phone was also used on the same days and at the same times.
Jay’s green Ford Bronco, which was also reported missing, was discovered less than a mile from their house, two days after his torso was found.
Three witnesses told police that a woman matching Marjorie’s description was seen around the Bronco after Sept. 8.
At Jay’s Phoenix business, Barnes found a package of jigsaw blades. Two were missing. The Medical Examiner’s Office tested identical blades, which matched the pattern on Jay’s body.
A “close friend” of Marjorie told police that at the start of 2004, Marjorie started making threats to kill Jay by shooting him, wrapping him up and leaving him in the desert.
She also told a friend that she hoped he would die while traveling on the road for business or that she would cut his brake lines, Barnes said.
Marjorie was arrested at the couple’s home Monday night. She is being held in a Maricopa County jail without bail. She has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 15.
The couple’s son is staying with Jay’s parents at their Phoenix home, police said.
Jay’s body was cremated Monday.
“This man was very well-liked and loved,” Barnes said. “Everybody describes him as a warm, loving, giving man.”
Reporters Holly Johnson, Michael Kiefer, David J. Cieslak and William Hermann contributed to this article.