After reportedly shooting his victim with a gun, the suspect of Tuesday’s murder in Rigby claimed the victim had suffered nothing more than a nosebleed.
According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, the shooting was the culmination of several days of reported odd behavior from Jesse Gentle that reportedly saw him smoke marijuana with his 72-year-old victim and shoot an unknown substance into his arms via syringes. He also reportedly brandished weapons and fantasized about killing people, including himself.
Police have charged Gentle, 21, with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting 72-year-old Merle Jay Sorenson who was his aunt’s house guest.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, Gentle went to spend several nights with his aunt in her Rigby home. She observed he had brought a gun. The woman told police she twice heard Gentle say “he has to kill five lives.” He also once held the gun to his head and said he was “wondering who I use this on, maybe myself,” according to the affidavit.
Sorenson arrived at the woman’s house on Sunday, also planning to spend multiple nights there. The woman told police that Sorenson had been her “best friend for 30 years.” On Monday night, the three of them smoked marijuana together. The aunt said she at some point observed Gentle use syringes in his arms, “but wasn’t sure what was in the syringes.”
Gentle’s aunt went to bed around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning. Soon after, Gentle and Sorenson woke her up to “possibly party some more.” Upset over having been awoken, the aunt told them to go back to their rooms. Gentle assisted Sorenson walk back to his room because “he was having a hard time walking,” according to the aunt.
The aunt reported that Jesse returned minutes later to take a shotgun out of her drawer. She “didn’t think much of it because she was sleepy.”
Less than 15 minutes later, the aunt said she awoke to the sound of two gunshots. She went to her covered patio where Sorenson was staying. Jesse was there and told her he had shot a mouse. At that point, she noticed Sorenson kneeling, blood visible on his back, the affidavit said. After taking the gun from Gentle, the aunt asked if Sorenson was OK. Gentle reportedly told her Sorenson was “OK, he has a nose bleed.”
After realizing Sorenson was dead, the aunt accused Gentle of killing her friend. She said Gentle responded, “We’ll take care of it.” The aunt then left her home and called 911 at 1:58 a.m.
Responding officers found Gentle at the home and took him into custody. One officer found Sorenson’s body in the bathroom. Bloodstains indicated the body was dragged from the patio. On Gentle’s bed, Idaho State crime scene investigators found bloody clothes soaked in bleach water, an empty bottle of bleach, shoes and a gun.
Gentle is currently held in the Jefferson County Jail on a $750,000 bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 2 at the Jefferson County Courthouse.
First-degree murder is punishable in Idaho with the death penalty or up to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
Both Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies and Idaho State Police are conducting an investigation into the event. Law enforcement announced Tuesday that an autopsy had been scheduled for Sorenson’s remains.