Murder suspect confesses

LIHU’E – One of two suspects – including the daughter of the victim – who were

arrested by Kaua’i police last Saturday for the murder of Jeff Brisebois, 48,

in Wainiha has confessed to committing the crime.

After failing a polygraph

test and making conflicting comments to police investigators, Matthew David

Blankswade, 21, of Wainiha, admitted shooting Brisebois with a shotgun as the

victim slept in his home on Wainiha Powerhouse Road on the morning of June 26,

according to court documents.

After killing Brisebois, police said,

Blankswade threw the 12-gauge shotgun onto property next to Brisebois’

four-acre kuleana property by Wainiha Stream. With the help of Blankswade,

police later recovered the alleged murder weapon.

The man’s daughter, Amber

Brisebois, 18, of Wainiha, also helped plot the man’s murder, according to

documents that said she hated her father and wanted to seize control of his

property. She had planned with Blankswade, her boyfriend, to either have either

her father evicted legally from the property or to have him killed, authorities

said.

Blankswade was arraigned in Lihu’e District Court yesterday on a

second-degree murder charge.

State Judge Clifford Nakea scheduled a

preliminary hearing for the suspect for 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Authorities

said Amber Brisebois also failed a polygraph test administered by the Honolulu

Police Department, but because of lack of evidence, she was released by Kaua’i

police Tuesday.

If sufficient evidence surfaces to warrant an arrest, she

could be indicted for murder by a Kaua’i grand jury, police officials

said.

She and Blankswade were arrested by police last Saturday on second

-degree murder charges and were confined at the Kaua’i Community Correctional

Center in Wailua after they failed to post a $20,000 bail.

Blankswade will

be held at the jail until his preliminary Thursday.

During a police

interview at the Hanalei substation last Saturday, Blankswade confessed to

killing Jeff Brisebois, police reported.

According to court documents,

Blankswade relayed this information:

* One night before the murder, Amber

Brisebois drove him to a lot in Kilauea where he broke into a container and

stole weapons and ammunition.

During a search of a home the couple occupied

on Brisebois’ property, police confiscated a 20-gauge shotgun, a double-barrel

shotgun, a .22-caliber lever-action rifle, a .357-magnum revolver, a 9 mm-semi

automatic weapon and several bullets and shotgun shells.

It is not known

whether the 12-gauge shotgun used in the murder was among those weapons stolen

from the Kilauea lot.

* Ben Blankswade, the suspect’s 16-year brother,

Summers Krenzer, 21, Amber Brisebois and the suspect went to the end of

Powerhouse Road and fired all the weapons. All four lived in one of three homes

on the dead man’s property.

* On the morning of the day Jeff Brisebois was

killed, Matt Blankswade retrieved the murder weapon from the northeast corner

of the victim’s property, where it had been hidden.

* Blankswade entered

Jeff Brisebois’ home through a side door and went to his bedroom. While Amber

Brisebois waited at the entranceway, the suspect walked up to the victim and

shot him while he slept.

According to police investigators, the muzzle was

within 24 inches of the victim’s face before the shot was fired.

* The

suspect and Amber Brisebois then left the house and went to the area where

Blankswade had initially retrieved the weapon and threw it and the spent casing

into the Waniha Stream.

* The suspect said he went back to their home on

the victim’s property, panicked and became sick. But the victim’s daughter told

Blankswade not to worry and that neighbors, who had been feuding with him over

access to his property, would be blamed for the murder.

One of the

neighbors, however, has told The Garden Island that they had no part in Jeff

Brisebois’ death.

* Between 8 and 9 a.m., Amber Brisebois told the suspect

they needed to go back into the victim’s home to check to see whether Jeff

Brisebois was dead.

* The suspect went back into the home and pulled the

body, which had been laying on its right side, onto its back side. Confirming

the victim had died, the suspect returned to his home.

* That evening,

Amber Brisebois “pretended” to find the body when she informed Mike and Ingrid

Oliva, two other people who lived in another home on the four-acre lot and were

friends with the victim, of her father’s death.

* The suspect asked his

brother, Ben Blankswade, to throw away the weapons and ammunition,

* Ben

Blankswade and Krenzer knew nothing about the plan to kill

Brisebois.

During the same interview with police on July 8, Blankswade also

disclosed:

* While living on the mainland, he and Amber Brisebois had

discussed the possibility of moving to Kaua’i to take over her father’s

property.

* Amber hated her father and wanted to figure out a way to get

him off the property. They considered these options: Ask Jeff Brisebois to

move, ask him to move into one of the other homes on the lot, hire an attorney

to have Jeff Brisebois legally removed, or, as a last resort, kill

him.

Police also based their arrests on conflicting information given by

Amber Brisebois and the suspect. Authorities said:

* She told one officer

she had not heard the shot fired, but told another officer she had heard

it.

* Blankswade said Amber Brisebois and Krenzer were with him in the

bathroom of the home they occupied when the shot was fired. He later said he

was alone.

* Amber Brisebois told police she had just gotten off work when

she went to her father’s house and found him dead.

Police investigators

said they learned she had taken the day off.

* On June 26, Amber Brisebois

said she brought a video rental tape to her father’s home to see if the victim

wanted to see it. Police found it odd that she would take the tape to him when

it was scheduled to be returned to the video store in 30 minutes.

Police

became aware of Brisebois’ death after Mike Oliva, a neighbor, reported after 8

p.m. that he had found the man’s body and thought that it was a

suicide.

Oliva said his wife, Ingrid, heard a gunshot from the direction of

Brisebois’ home before sunrise on June 26, but wasn’t concerned because weapons

are periodically fired in nearby mountains and valleys. As a result, neither he

nor his wife went to the victim’s home to check on Brisebois.

Amber

Brisebois told police she was the first to enter the home after the shot was

fired, after 5 p.m. that day, and found her father. She ran to Ingrid Oliva’s

home and asked her for help.

Ingrid Oliva and Amber went back into

Brisebois’ home, and after seeing a large wound to the right of the victim’s

face, they left and waited for Oliva’s husband to return from work.

Mike

Oliva called police, which began a 13-day investigation leading to the

arrests.

“It was like a Hollywood movie,” said one police

investigator.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681

(ext. 225) or lchang@pulitzer.net

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