By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Police arrested a 44-year-old Puna man on Thursday afternoon for the 2008 slaying of his wife.
Alexander Malani Gambsky was taken into custody at his Kurtistown home and charged with second-degree murder for the death of his wife, Dawn K. Gambsky, aka Dawn K. Mancilla.
Friends of the 34-year-old woman, who sold clothing for pets on the Internet, reported her missing in July 2008, telling police they hadn’t seen her for about six months. Her skeletal remains were found by police executing a search warrant on Aug. 8, 2008, in a shallow grave in the back yard of the home she shared with her husband on 37th Avenue in Orchidland Estates subdivision. Gambsky was living with another woman in the Orchidland home at the time.
An autopsy indicated the presence of traumatic injuries to Dawn Gambsky’s body, which was identified by dental records.
Police classified the case a murder in May 2009 and forwarded its findings to prosecutors.
“There was no indication that she died of natural causes,” Capt. Randall Medeiros, then commander of the Hilo Criminal Investigation Division, said at the time.
Some in the public were outraged that Alexander Gambsky wasn’t charged with murder in 2008 or 2009 after his wife’s body was found and identified.
A Hilo grand jury indicted him on Wednesday and a bench warrant set his bail at $1 million.
“When I took office, one of the things I said is we’re going to take a look at some of these cases,” county Prosecutor Mitch Roth said Thursday morning. “After we did an extensive and thorough review of the evidence and re-interviewed pretty much all of the witnesses, we made the decision to go forward with this case.”
Roth said the recent investigation uncovered new details, but declined to be more specific, saying, “We’re not going to try this case in the press.”
Roth told the Tribune-Herald that he would prosecute the case himself. Asked how confident he is in the case, Roth replied: “Very.”
Court records state that police questioned Alexander Gambsky in July 2008 and administered a polygraph test. Detective Rio Amon-Wilkins wrote that Gambsky “was being deceptive (about having) knowledge of the condition and location of his wife.”
Alexander Gambsky reportedly told police on July 27, 2008 that his wife had left him and was no longer living at their home. He said he had last seen her in January 2008 and since then had only talked to her once. He told police he didn’t know where she was living or how to contact her, documents state.
Gambsky’s then-girlfriend told police on Aug. 4, 2008 that she had 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.
When contacted by the Tribune-Herald, Gambsky’s former girlfriend declined to comment.
Police recovered a Chinese-made semiautomatic rifle and 37 rounds of ammunition at the Orchidland 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 believed the evidence pointed to her daughter’s husband as her killer.
Police ask that anyone with information contact Detective Wendall Carter at 961-2378 or email@example.com. Those who prefer anonymity may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
“We do believe there are people out there that he’s spoken to,” Roth said. “If there’s anyone out there with information, we’d like them to contact the police.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.