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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: She stated that her husband had been physically abusing her and she was afraid he'd kill her
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 13, 2007
Date of arrest: Several days later (suicide attempt)
Date of birth: 1958
Victim profile: Her husband, William Gustafik, 44
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, USA
Status: Sentenced to 10 years to life in prison on November 19, 2008

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10 to Life for Woman in Professional Poker Player Slaying

November 24, 2008

A woman has been sentenced to 10 years to life in prison for stabbing her husband-a professional poker player-to death in a Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, condominium last year.

According to media reports, Jill Rockcastle, 50, was sentenced Tuesday by Clark County District Court Judge Michael Villani.

Rockcastle pleaded no contest on September 16, 2008, to second-degree murder in the slaying of her husband, William Gustafik, 44, a former chiropractor who became a Vegas poker pro, the reports said.

Her plea avoided trial and acknowledged that prosecutors could prove the case against her, the reports said.

Rockcastle's public defense lawyer, Joseph Abood, cast his client as a battered wife who grabbed a knife and stabbed Gustafik 15 times after he grabbed her by the hair, the reports said.

Prosecutor Sam Bateman, however, said there was no evidence Gustafik was violent toward Rockcastle, the reports said.

Police found Gustafik's body on April 13, 2007, after being directed to a blood-spattered bedroom in a 23rd-floor condo at the Panorama Towers on the Las Vegas Strip.

Rockcastle was arrested several days later, after she was found unconscious at a motel in San Luis Obispo, California, USA, from a drug overdose.

According to tournament records, Gustafik won a total of $165,597 in his career playing in poker tourneys in Vegas and California.

His biggest payday-$80,000-came when he finished tenth in a World Poker Tour event in San Jose, California, USA, in 2006.

His biggest claim to fame, however, was finishing in 280th place at the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas in 2006, earning $38,759.


Wife gets life in slaying that ended LV 'high life'

By David Kihara - Las Vegas Review-Journal

November 19, 2008

Poker. Luxury condominiums. Hit men and murder. William Gustafik's life and death read like a made-for-TV movie.

Gustafik was found dead at the Panorama Towers in April 2007. He had been stabbed more than a dozen times.

The chiropractor-turned-professional poker player was trying to live the high life in Las Vegas, according to his wife.

His wife, however, was accused of killing him. Jill Rockcastle, 50, claimed he had been physically abusing her, threatened to kill her and was unstable.

On Tuesday, Rockcastle was sentenced to life in prison for Gustafik's fatal stabbing.

She will be eligible for parole after 10 years as a result of a plea to a second-degree murder charge.

In a rambling statement in District Judge Michael Villani's courtroom, Rockcastle apologized profusely for the slaying.

She said through sobs that her husband was out of control and had been abusing illegal drugs and steroids. She stated that Gustafik had been physically abusing her and she was afraid he'd kill her.

"I love my husband. I'm not a violent person," Rockcastle said. "I just lost control."

She entered an Alford plea, meaning that she didn't admit guilt but conceded that prosecutors could prove the case against her.

Just before the slaying, Gustafik, 44, was on a bed at the Panorama Towers and grabbed Rockcastle by the hair, said her attorney, Deputy Public Defender Joe Abood. She grabbed a knife that Gustafik had been using to open pornographic DVDs and stabbed him multiple times, Abood said.

Authorities believe she stabbed Gustafik 15 times.

"Mr. Gustafik was becoming violent and increasingly violent over time," Abood said.

Deputy District Attorney Sam Bateman disputed Rockcastle's claims.

"Dead men tell no tales," Bateman said. "I can't bring the victim in on this case to give his side of the story."

He said there was no evidence Rockcastle suffered from battered woman syndrome, as represented by Abood. He said she had independent money sources, traveled back and forth between Las Vegas and California, was running a business for her husband and wasn't controlled by him.

"This is a woman who was in complete control of her life," Bateman said.

After the April 2007 slaying, Rockcastle fled to California. She eventually was found unconscious in a central California bed-and-breakfast, where she had tried to kill herself.

Gustafik was a corrections officer in California in the mid-1980s and later became a chiropractor in the state. Rockcastle met him in 2000. Gustafik had several chiropractic offices and was successful but wanted to pursue poker professionally, she stated in court documents.

In a 10-page suicide note, Rockcastle claimed that Gustafik hired a hit man in Las Vegas to kill his ex-wife so she wouldn't file for custody of their daughter. She also stated in the letter that Gustafik was obsessed with his looks, took performance-enhancing drugs and used cocaine.

"He wanted to live the high roller's life," Rockcastle wrote. "Getting on TV was an obsession. He wanted to be recognized publicly."

She stated that they both underwent plastic surgery and that she helped Gustafik live the high life.

Gustafik began to go through money quickly, she wrote. He was addicted to gambling but was spending more on trips and going out than he was making playing cards.

The couple began to scheme to sell fake real estate and other scams.

"We were living this fake life of millionaires. But we weren't. We were going broke," she wrote.


Tales from the Darkside

May 25, 2007

Jill Rockcastle, 49, was indicted in Clark County District Court for premeditated murder in the slaying of William Gustafik, 44. Known as “The Manipulator,” Gustafik is a former California chiropractor who became a Las Vegas poker pro.

His body was discovered April 13 in the blood-spattered master bedroom of a 23rd floor unit at the Panorama Towers, an upscale condo located just west of the Las Vegas Strip where the pair had leased a unit from an investor who owned several units in the building.

Bedding in the room was washed, but police crime scene investigators found blood on the pillows. The police also found the murder weapon, a knife that they recovered near the building’s rubbish chute.

Rockcastle vanished, only to be captured three days after the murder, when a tip received by the police paid off. Police found her unconscious in a room at the Petit Soleil Bed and Breakfast in San Luis Obispo, California. The police believe she overdosed on an unknown medication. Rockcastle was hospitalized and then extradited from San Luis Obispo to Nevada. Since May she has been held without bail at the Clark County jail where she is represented by the Clark County Public Defender.

In a long, rambling 10-page confession, Jill Rockcastle describes their lives as a crumbling façade built on lies, deceit, and an insatiable craving for a high-rolling lifestyle. She claims Gustafik was addicted to drugs and poker and tells how they made changes to his income tax returns so that his support payments to his ex-wife would be less. According to Rockcastle, Gustafik’s chiropractor practice was running into the ground as he focused more and more on poker tournaments, his obsession with getting on television, and living the lifestyle of a poker pro. She stated that Gustafik was losing $70,000 a month at poker.


10-page letter from Jill Rockcastle

April 19, 2007

"This is my final statement done to help all the people affected by my actions, Bill's actions, the actions and the results of whatever does happen to them in our aftermath. I'm writing this so that each person that receives it will identify with the time period in which your experience occurred with him and I and can have some of the why, how, why me, how could they, what happened etc. answered. I am not trying in anyway to justify a single thing in here. I am not looking to clear my name or actions. I have already done the most final things possible to stop us from hurting anyone else.

"When Bill and I met, we discovered that we both had the ability to get pretty much anything we wanted out of people. I did what I did out of my need to survive. Bill did what he did out of the need to conquer. To be superior to the people around him. To look like the most successful person in the room. He lived his life feeding his narcissism.

"He did all kinds of performance and look enhancing drugs. He was very physically aware and fit. He felt superior in his profession as a Chiropractor. He was earning a large amount of money but I was constantly listening to conversations on the phone about lies and schemes against people and agencies to maximize what he was paid.

"I was working in the mortgage business and as anyone knows that has owned a home and gone through the finance process, it usually involves being bullshitte all the way to signing documents that never exactly match what you thought you were getting. Both of us lied, manipulated, cheated, conned and hustled people to make the most money for us.

"Bill was also immersed in the battle over his rights in the custody of his daughter. He was not fighting to have custody tailored to the needs and the best interest of his daughter but to maximize the inconvenience to his ex-wife and to satisfy his public image of being considered by people as just as good of a Dad if not better as his ex was a Mother. The problem was, he was not. He did not enjoy the emotion love part of being a parent. He believed that his ex was so obsessed with (their daughter) because she had all these detachment issues but she was always better for her than he could ever be and THAT IS WHAT HE HATED and fought so hard against. He knew deep down that he could not care for someone. That he didn't feel love. That he didn't feel compassion. Not once ever in his life did he do something JUST to make someone feel better. He wasn't capable of tenderness. When we met he had no contact or relationship with his biological Father and hated when he had to do something with his mother and that side of the family.

"I had no family so it wasn't a problem for me not to do family things. I was used to spending holidays with friends and not relatives.

"Not too long after meeting each other, Bill was going through another custody evaluation, and was required to provide his 2001, 2002 tax returns. These returns showed he was actually making over 200,000 in net income which was subject to child support. He ranted daily about the prospect of paying so much. His ex, the bitch, was not getting that much. On and on and on that went until I showed him a program I had for preparing returns yourself. He asked me to cut his income way down. I did the calculations but I couldn't go through with it. Two days before the court hearing, he was threatening me. Screaming on the phone. Telling me he needed this. I did love him. I did want to help him. On the morning of the hearing, I finally gave in and faxed the revised return to the lawyer. This when our partnership in crime was launched. Our first act of joint deception. We did his return to have only half of that net income and his support was raised to $1800 a month instead of the $4000 they were talking about. It worked so perfectly for Bill and I was a willing participant that he now had no problem asking me for more. We stopped paying taxes altogether. "Because of this first crime as I will call it, we began living without rules and not afraid of consequence. Bill told me if we were ever caught, he would have enough money to buy us out of trouble. He had a partnership with a doctor to open an office in Antioch and had me do the books. This way, he---we---could report anything in the financials and he could take more than the 50% profit. I once again did this as he gave me some of the profits. He had me finance real estate for some of the people he worked with so I could get increased fees and share them. I did it.

"Bill discovered several ways to bleed as much personal revenue out of any relationship, business deal and opportunity and was enjoying huge monthly income. "At the time, I loved and visited Las Vegas often. I had learned how to work the marketing systems and programs developed by casinos to attract and maintain players who offered regular spending and gaming losses. I was able to establish myself as a VIP at several properties and had many perks and benefits including free rooms, meals, amenities , etc. He began going with me on my regular trips. He loved the VIP treatment and attention. "Because I played table games for 6-8 hours a day to meet the requirements of my status, he began playing poker. His obsession was born.

"He took over his Hayward office as an owner in Feb 2004. I helped him purchase the building his Hayward office was in and was able to get this done as a LLC without affecting his personal credit. He viewed this as such a coo and was so impressed with my ability to ``pull one off.'' He had his home in San Ramon and I had mine. We spent everyday together. I started doing the books for his Hayward office as a favor since I was still doing his Antioch office. I cant even remember the number of times I would hear him scamming someone on the phone and hanging up and being so proud of himself for how much he got out of that guy or this lien. He over treated patients, he had them have the injuries flare up after he maximized the original allowed billing and milked the state for so much money in false care. He was so impressed with his self net worth and began spending excessively. He wanted to live his status. He wanted to be visibly rich. He suggested we move in together but neither one of our houses were good enough.

"I was able to cover my expenses with one or two deals a month, as I financed larger homes with larger mortgages and was obtaining 2% or better on my transaction. On $700,000 that was $14,000 or more on one deal. I split 50/50 and then 60/40 with the broker I worked with so I walked with $8000 and that was more than I spent. So I didn't work much. I had a lot of free time and he was still working daily from 7-7 most days. He was very jealous of this. He wanted to play poker. He wanted to live the high rollers life and become a professional player on TV. Getting on TV was an obsession. He wanted to be recognized publicly. He decided that because changes were coming in workers compensation benefits and his income was going to soon suffer that he needed to be a player. I had free time and he wanted it. "In Oct 2004 we moved into our new lifestyle. The beginning of the con. Im leaving so much out but those who know us know we went through the physical enhancements, all the plastic surgery, all to look rich and look great when he was famous. I did so many things to my body to be his ``trophy'' Im not blaming him alone for this. I liked it. I wanted it. I helped Bill buy two additional houses. I helped Bill get his fancy car. I helped Bill do all this and said everything was because of me and my money so that his exwife would not pursue him for more support.

"Bill decided to go for the poker and hired two doctors to run his offices giving them buyout options after a period of time just like he bought his Hayward office. The doctor he put into his Hayward office disclosed to us that he was in the process of being prosecuted for child pron. Bill didn't care. I went to our attorney and told him everything. He told Bill not to let this guy near his office. Bill didn't care. He wanted the freedom and he wanted to play poker full time. Bill went so far as to let him even move into his home in San Ramon as part of the deal. CHILD PORN. "Bill played his first professional poker tournament at the WSOP , buying in for 10000 and losing in about 4 hours. But the rush of doing it was now what he needed. Everything we did from then on was based on his goal to be the pro, to win millions, and most of all to be famous. To be on TV.

"As for his daughter, he continued an ongoing battle with his wife. This never stopped for six years. He went through several professionals, attorneys, and all kinds of money on this. Spending in access of $100,000 just to hurt Joanne. He never really wanted xxxxx. I will insert a letter to her now.


"This letter is to help you and xxxxx. I want you to know that the way you felt about Bill and why he was so horrible to you was not for any other reason than Bill preferred fighting with you over just being happy with xxxxx. I don't know why but I do know that his hatred for you must have been more than that. What you thought and portrayed to the world about him governed every move he made. He wanted everyone to view him as the best Dad I think because he didn't even know how to be one. He loved xxxxx inside but did not for whatever reason, know how to take care of her emotionally. He did not have a caring nurturing bone in his body. He felt love but didn't feel the need nor have the ability to be weak in it. He felt he always had to be ``Top Gamer.''

"Two years ago, he did plan to have you and your Mom killed. He paid a guy to do it while we had xxxxx in Las Vegas for our Christmas time. It was the scariest few days.

"He was going to kill you so he could get xxxxx, kill your Mom so she wouldnt file for custody and then hire a full time nanny to take care of her do he could continue to chase his poker dream of winning the big one and getting on TV. When I got so upset by this and told him that he would devastate xxxxx, his response was, she will get over it. Living in Las Vegas, traveling, etc and with one person dedicated just to her, she will ``be on cloud nine.'' Kids are happy wherever they are. That gave me the biggest insight to Bill. He never had, not in xxxxx, not in me, not anything that he truly loved accept himself. To think that she would be better off and happier if she lost you. He could not see the relationship you share with her because he had none, nor did he really understand one with her. Having her sit in her bedroom for 12 hours on a Sunday watching TV while he played poker and did lines of cocaine was his idea of visitation. She was happy because she never got to do that at home because you had her doing things all the time. He saw that as a fault in you. That you were so obsessed with xxxxx because you had all these detachment issues and maybe you do have some Joanne, but you were always better for her than he could ever be and THAT IS WHAT HE HATED and fought so hard against. He knew deep down that he could not care for someone. That he didn't feel love. That he didn't feel compassion. Not once ever in his life did he do something JUST to make someone feel better. He wasn't capable of tenderness.

"He criticized you for breakfast in bed when if he would have just done that once in a while for her, just got up and snuck in her bed, she would have been so happy. He couldn't or wouldn't do it. "Everything had to have a visible end result to be considered worth doing for him. Not an emotional satisfaction. That he never got. I am so sorry. I should have ended this then. I should have been stronger and gone to an attorney and helped you. His obsession with poker was as important to him as fighting with you. He calculated every more in your battle to achieve the maximum Joanne piss off level possible. This new tactic of trying to get xxxxx out of OLG was only because you are so involved in your church and school and you love her there. He had no thought of how happy xxxxx was there, how it had become her community, how she had rooted herself . He believed she would adjust but you would not. You would go crazy. He loved the thought of you having to live everyday without what you wanted. I don't understand that.

What happened did because I just couldn't let it keep going. He was planning on filing this new motion to get you mentally examined, change her school, get 50% custody and the other changes in there and then tell you how it really was going to be. He would win and hire a nanny to care for xxxxx when he had his week on so he could continue to play poker. As a backup plan he would find the real guys to do the job and be prepared to kill you and your Mom if this got to be to difficult and he wasnt winning. When this happened Joanne, he was doing just that. He decided to go forward and get this done. We fought about it constantly, violently and I believed him I just couldn't let it happen. I'm so sorry for you and for xxxxx but in the end here today I will feel for the first time that she is safe and that maybe somehow I actually helped her.

"Now for the rest of the people that have been hurt by this. I will tell the stories in general terms but you will know who you are. Bill began flying through money. He played online, he played constantly and he played as if there was no end to the money. He really believed he was going to make it.

All of the changes to workmens compensation came down and Bills income went down 2/3 from what it was. He was losing money in his offices He was spending more than he was making, not only on poker but on trips, on partying, on toys, on everything. But he believed all he had to do was hit it once, win once and it would all be perfect. The money was running out. We were living this fake life of millionaires. But we weren't. We were going broke. This is when some of the schemes were hatched. The different ways to get people to give "ME" money, not him so he didn't have the exwife thing. Selling fake real estate deals. This plan was born after doing a real deal with a friend buying 50% of a property that was financed by the other guy, on his credit and we paid 50% cash and signed a side deal saying we owned 50% but that was only on paper. Bill thought that was a great way to get money because he believed the guy we did this with made money that we didn't know about. On the property and on the furniture deal.

"The first one he promised me that if I was able to get this person to buy off on this that the money given as a down payment would be returned to that person doubled when he won a big tournament. I did it. At this point I should be looked at as horrible for being able to even think it yet do it. But I thought if he was right, then I was helping. That's how I lived with my sick self.

The next really horrible one was a good friend, according to Bill, got in trouble and asked Bill and I to help them. This included holding funds that were a source of their pending prosecution but what they needed protected if their case all came down. Bill had them give the money to me and be the front person with them, talking about protection options so that if anything happened he was not subject to recourse by his exwife and loose anything with his daughter. My kids were already gone, so I could take the fall. What people didn't think he knew couldn't hurt him. Bill took the majority of the cash and hide it in an undisclosed location so that I didn't have to be scared. I was.

"Several more things happened and while doing his poker and his drugs, we put on quite the show. High rollers. Big money. I was rich. I was a great business person. I was despicable.

He continued to fight his exwife. He hired attorney after attorney. He ended up with a woman in Pleasanton who is a perfect resource for anyone who would like validation. She was scared for me. She saw how aggressive and violent and nasty Bill was and could be. She advised me more than once to take care of me. On one occasion, I visited her office alone and she was shocked at the way I looked and concerned that I was in trouble. I was. But I said nothing. In this custody and other battles, Bill was ordered to be tested for ADHD and to get anger management. A therapist was selected and Bill began visiting him. I went on several of these and on one appointment, I was talking and Bill was being so mean and so destructive that the therapist said "You are a prick" and Bill loved it and laughed.

"Bill signed an agreement instead of going to court so that he could cut his regular visitation down which accommodated his poker playing. He hired a nanny when he did have xxxxx, taking her to Vegas and she spent all day and night with her instead of him.

"We were running out of everything, money, credit, friends, everything. So many nights, starting at 4 pm and going until 1 or 2 am, he would play online poker and do lines of cocaine and I would sit on the bed doing nothing when we were home. When in Vegas, he played poker. Cash, tournaments and invitational games, all of which he would loose. A tournament would run a week with games everyday totally $15-20,000 which he would loose and then play the big game, with the $10, 15 or $25,000 buy in fee. He was losing in excess of 50-75,000 a month easy. From Jan 2007 to the day of this tragedy he had lost over $200,000.

Now I did gamble too and several of you know how I could bet. But you have seen me win thousands. I would play roulette, win 20,000, text Bill in the poker room. He would run over and grab 10-15,000 and go loose it.

"His income continued to drop. I hit several large jackpots including $80,000 at Bellagio. I stashed a lot of my Paris and Bellagio cash winnings. I had a nest egg. I gave it to my children as they needed it.

"He was now becoming desperate. Several more scams were done and he was funded a little longer but he never won. His offices were dying and costing us. I went to the bank constantly depositing money to pay the bills. He would come up with cash and make me deposit it so the bank thought it was all mine so if his exwife did anything that he would be ok. My days were spent juggling phone calls and lies to people and the fake life. I was breaking down.

I'm going to skip so many things in an effort to shorten this but my life was a constant hell for the last year. Im going to skip all the lawsuits that were being filed. All the tax notices. All the bounced checks. All the drugs. All the collections. The worst day being when Bill informed me that his friend who had given him the cash to hold needed some money for taxes. That was the day he told me it was all gone. That I had to come up with the cash for his friend. I went into shock. I don't know what happened to me but I changed. I became convinced I had to stop him somehow. I called everyone for help. Some of you know I asked. Some of you know how desperate I was becoming. I called that attorney mentioned and asked to help me to get me out. "But she never called me back. I called my at my attorney and told him everything about the gambling and drugs. He told me that most gambling addicts could not stop until everything was gone as there was no substitution for the high. I knew it.

"On the day of the tragedy, Bill left for Vegas instructing me to make sure his buyin was paid by the time he landed. I had been suffering symptoms of heart attacks for several weeks and decided I had to see my doctor. I had a rash breakout a week before I thought was nothing. "I went in and found out I had shingles, caused by overwhelming stress. He gave me scripts for pills to calm me. I hadn't really slept for weeks. I will now insert my statement about the tragedy.



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