LAYTON -- A family here Friday mourned a family member they had lost just the night before, but they grieved for the woman their daughter and sister could have been.
Police said Jessica Irene Jensen, 26, of Layton, was found dead Thursday night in a Salt Lake City motel, but they believe she died as many as four days earlier.
Police identified Jensen through fingerprints after her body was found Thursday under a bed at the Capitol Motel in Salt Lake City. She would have been 26 years old on Monday.
Officers arrested Thomas Kumalac, 28, and booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail on one count of murder, one count of witness-tampering and one count of obstruction of justice.
"We're not supposed to lose our children," said her father, Michael Jensen of West Haven, in a telephone interview.
According to the Salt Lake County Sheriff's probable cause statement, Kumalac rented the motel room, using his New Jersey identification card, from May 27 to May 31.
Salt Lake police detective Lisa Pascadio said the motive for the woman's death and how she died is a mystery.
Jensen's body was found after a guest who checked into a room at the motel complained of a foul stench, according to the probable cause statement. Her body was found wrapped in a towel and stashed under the box springs and mattress in the wooden bed frame.
The Utah State Medical Examiner investigator estimates that Jensen would have been dead for four to five days, which "would put her death in the time period the room was rented" by Kumalac, according to the probable cause statement.
Police arrested Kumalac as he was "fleeing from Utah and attempting to enter Wendover, Nev." on Thursday, according to the document. During questioning, Kumalac "admitted to activity causing her death" at the motel.
Authorities do not know the nature of the relationship between Kumalac and Jensen. The probable cause statement said Jensen's stepmother told officers she had met Kumalac and his girlfriend when they visited Jensen.
Her family said their grief surrounds the choices that led Jensen to be in that motel room at the time of her death.
Their sadness stems from a mental condition known as bipolar disorder that often guided Jensen's choices during her extreme highs and lows to circumstances that would hurt her and would steal her away from them for periods of time.
"She wouldn't have been with the man who murdered her," said Jensen's mother, Anna Boulton, had Jensen not had bipolar disorder.
Boulton told of a talented and creative young woman who had been a cheerleader her sophomore year at Layton High School, but who rolled her new car at age 16 the first time she drove it, while in a manic state. Boulton said when her daughter first showed signs of her disorder, doctors gave her anti-depressants that only worsened her condition.
Noting that her daughter sometimes was jailed during manic episodes brought on by her disorder that led to acts such as shoplifting, forging checks and destruction of property, Boulton said her daughter likely still would be alive had there been programs that better served her needs.
"People in the system need to realize that there needs to be a program for people with mental illness," Boulton said, noting that she hoped something could be established that is funded by a portion of the money that goes to jails.
"In her case, it was just somebody who could make sure she took her medicine," said the mother.
Jensen's stepfather, Rick Sline, said watching Jensen often was painful.
"This has been a tornado," he said.
Boulton said she had worried intensely for her daughter's safety over the last eight years.
At 16, when she was first diagnosed, the family said they didn't feel so helpless.
They said over the next two years they could legally help her. They committed her at times to a psychological unit at McKay-Dee Hospital.
But they said once she turned 18, often there was little they could do except administer tough love. Often various family members tried by getting her apartments and helping her financially, but they said such efforts often blew up in their faces.
"We all, at various times, said something to her like, 'We love you. As soon as I get a call from your therapist that says you are getting help, I will help you,' " said Sline.
But the family said at times, Jensen was relatively together.
They say the four years she was with Ike Adams, the father of her 4-year-old daughter, were somewhat uneventful.
"I felt like she thought if she could settle down with someone, it would normalize her," said her stepsister, Andrea Sline.
And Boulton said her favorite memory of her daughter was watching the young woman become a mother.
"When she first held her daughter, I saw how good of a mom she could be when she wanted to be," Boulton said.
But then there were other times.
May was a particularly bad month for Jensen, they said.
"We always called it Maniac May," Rick Sline said.
But Boulton said she believes the bottom line for her daughter was the friends Jensen chose.
"It's like they tell you. These people with whom you associate are really going to influence the decisions you make. If you are with people that raise you up, it helps you make better decisions."
When asked if she expected her daughter's life to end in the way it did, Boulton said no.
"You just have to hang onto that hope," she said. "Basically, you hope that something like this never happens. "
Boulton said there was another young woman she knew with a similar problem who eventually did get help.
"Basically, it's getting to a certain level of maturity," she said, noting that the other young woman finally came to a point where she would accept help.
Even though she had held to hope, the mother said she warned her daughter of such an end.
"We used to say to her, 'You're either going to end up back in jail or you are going to end up dead,' " Boulton said.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.