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Man held for 2 North Whidbey murders, kidnapping | Corrected
A 30-year-old homeless man named Joshua Lambert stabbed his grandfather repeatedly and tied up the elderly man’s sister with clear packing tape, leaving her to lie helplessly and watch her brother die, according to a report by the Island County Sheriff’s Office.
But the horror didn’t end there. Lambert is a suspect in a second deadly stabbing that occurred a short time later at a different North Whidbey home, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks announced in court Tuesday afternoon.
The victims are both 80 years old and they are both Lambert’s grandfathers. Island County Sheriff Mark Brown identified them as George Daniel Lambert and August Eugene Eisner.
The motive for the killings, Banks said, was that Lambert “desperately wanted firearms” and the victims resisted.
Lambert, looking confused and unsure, made his preliminary appearance in Island County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon. He’s initially facing charges of first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping. Banks asked the judge to hold Lambert without bail under a new state law that was passed in the wake of the quadruple police killings in Lakewood. He said “the horrific and violent nature of the stabbing” was “clear and convincing evidence of Lambert’s propensity for violence.”
In addition, Banks pointed to Lambert’s lengthy criminal record. He said Lambert had served a five-year sentence in Alaska for assault with a deadly weapon and had returned to Whidbey Island sometime in the last year. In Washington, he has felony convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm and malicious mischief, as well as seven gross misdemeanor convictions.
Banks said Lambert is a transient who does not appear to have support in the community. He emphasized that Lambert faces a lengthy sentence, a minimum of 27 to 28 years in prison, if convicted of the crimes.
Judge Vickie Churchill agreed with Banks’ assessment and ordered that Lambert be held in jail without bail.
The affidavit of probable cause written by Detective Ed Wallace describes the events that occurred at George Lambert’s home on Oldenburg Lane, just west of Oak Harbor city limits. George Lambert’s sister, 66-year-old Kay Gage, lived at the home with her brother.
Gage told detectives that she was outside the house at about 1:30 p.m. when Joshua Lambert came walking up the driveway and asked to see his grandfather. Lambert went into the house, but Gage heard a commotion a few minutes later and went to investigate.
She entered the house and saw the younger Lambert holding what she thought was an ice pick in his blood-covered hands. He struck her over the head with the handle, bound her hands and feet with packing tape and demanded to know where the guns were, the affidavit states.
“Kay was left on the floor at George’s feet where she watched him die while she heard Joshua ransack the house for approximately an hour,” Wallace wrote.
Finally, Lambert took the keys to Gage’s Chrysler Pacifica and left after threatening to kill her if she called the police, the report states. Nevertheless, she managed to get her hands loose enough to get hold of her brother’s cell phone and call for help.
Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said Gage’s physical injures were relatively minor.
“There was a lot of mental trauma from what she witnessed,” he said.
Deputies responded to the scene of the murder at about 3 p.m., then received another 911 about a half an hour later from a home on Hastie Lake Road. They discovered the body of August Eisner, who had also been stabbed to death, but the assailant was gone.
By 3:30 p.m., law enforcement officers in Island County, Oak Harbor and Skagit County were searching for Lambert and the Chrysler.
Brown said the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office focused on La Conner because Lambert’s mother apparently owned a tea shop there. In addition, Whidbey General Hospital’s emergency room was closed to all but essential employees while the search was ongoing.
At 5 p.m., an Oak Harbor resident reported seeing a man running through a backyard near a wooded area off N. Oak Harbor Road, according to Brown. The Oak Harbor police responded and arrested Lambert in the middle of the intersection of NW Crosby Avenue and N. Oak Harbor Street.
Brown said Lambert’s clothes were covered in blood and he was carrying a suspected illegal substance. The sheriff said Lambert didn’t resist arrest, but later became violent at the county jail and had to be subdued.
Oak Harbor resident Kyle Peterson said he saw the police arrest Lambert in the middle of the street. He said it was shocking to learn that the murders had occurred on Whidbey Island.
“That’s crazy,” he said. “You just don’t expect to see that on this island.”
Brown said the Washington State Crime Lab is processing evidence at the house on Hastie Lake, while his detectives are handling evidence in the other home.
Brown spoke at a press conference Tuesday morning and described the horrific events that have shaken the quiet community.
“This is a huge blow to my community and the citizens here,” he said, but expressed thanks for the help of the 911 dispatchers in coordinating communication during the chaos and the Oak Harbor police in apprehending an “extremely violent suspect.”