Prosecutors eye unsolved murders


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

County Prosecutor Charlene Iboshi said her office is still reviewing the cases of two Orchidland women police believe were murdered.

The cases of Dawn Gambsky and Kaycee Smith were forwarded to prosecutors by police in 2009. Police say they identified suspects in both cases, but to date there have been no criminal charges filed.

"The cases are assigned (to deputy prosecutors)," Iboshi said last week. "There has been some discussion back and forth between the prosecutors and the police. They're continuing the process of interviewing people. Since they are murder cases, we only have one chance. We want to make sure all the issues are resolved before we charge or not charge, and there are some factual issues that are being discussed."

Iboshi said she couldn't predict when indictments may happen in either case.

"I know some time has passed," she said. "I'm hopeful with every case that there's a moment of clarity that will occur because of a factual development over time, and you cannot predict when that will happen."

The 34-year-old Gambsky had been missing for almost seven months when police found her skeletal remains on Aug. 8, 2008, in a shallow grave behind the home she shared with her husband, Alexander Gambsky. An autopsy performed four days later found there were "traumatic injuries" to her body.

Police said that Alexander Gambsky told investigators in July 2008 that his wife had moved out of their 37th Avenue home in mid-January and he didn't know how to contact her. According to court records, he told police his wife might have known about an affair he'd been carrying on with a co-worker since January.

On Aug. 4, 2008, Alison Higgins, Alexander Gambsky's then-girlfriend, told police she'd asked him what had really happened to his wife. He replied that he had found his wife had committed suicide in mid-January by hanging herself in the carport, and he had discovered her body suspended by the rope, according to court records.

Police recovered a Chinese-made semiautomatic rifle and 37 rounds of ammunition at the Gambsky home. No rope was found on the property, according to court filings.

The Tribune-Herald was unable to reach Dawn Gambsky's mother, Pamela Mancilla, for this story. Mancilla told the Tribune-Herald in July 2010 that she believes the evidence points to her daughter's husband as her killer.

"God is the one and only person that knows what happened, and I'm leaving it in his hands to bring it out, and whoever has done this will be dealt with in the right way with the law. I want everything done legally. ... I believe in justice," she said at the time. She also said she felt prosecutor's were "trying to ignore" her daughter's murder.

Smith, 21, was found dead June 30, 2009, in the living room of the rented Orchidland Drive home where she lived alone. Police said she had been killed by a single gunshot to the head and that the murder weapon, a handgun, was found near her body.

Smith was a former high-school rodeo standout for Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama on Oahu, and her death shocked the local rodeo and horse-owner communities.

A court document filed by police stated that the scene had been manipulated to make the killing look like a suicide.

"The physical evidence present was inconsistent with that of a self-inflicted gunshot wound," Detective Reed Mahuna wrote. "The most significant inconsistency was the placement of the victim's body, specifically, that both her hands appeared to be tucked under a small pillow."

Capt. Randall Medeiros, then head of the Criminal Investigation Division, said in October 2009 that police had identified both a suspect and a motive in Smith's slaying before forwarding the case to prosecutors, but did not elaborate.

Possible motives include revenge and money. Police believe Smith's late father, Noel "Bear" Smith, fatally shot 28-year-old Jeremy Napoleon on June 19, 2007, in the yard of Napoleon's Hawaiian Paradise Park home.

Noel Smith, 45, died about three hours later, when his 2007 Dodge pickup ran off Akoni Pule Highway in North Kohala and crashed into an embankment.

Al Cabral, president of the Hawaii Horse Owners Association, told the Tribune-Herald in July 2009, that Kaycee Smith and her older sister, Shelly, inherited a considerable sum of money after their father's death.

Efforts by the Tribune-Herald to reach Kaycee Smith's relatives have so far failed. Smith's mother, Emma Chong, and stepfather, Richard Chong, didn't return a phone message seeking comment for this story.