Accused killer’s mother blames drug use

Murder suspect Joshua Lambert carries boxes of paperwork into court. The Oak Harbor man is acting as his own attorney.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Murder suspect Joshua Lambert carries boxes of paperwork into court. The Oak Harbor man is acting as his own attorney.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

A couple of days ahead of schedule, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks rested his case against accused double-murderer Joshua Lambert Monday.

The day’s testimony provided insights into Lambert’s state of mind after the murders through candid conversations he had with his mother and the unusual circumstances surrounding his written confession.

Lambert is set to give his opening statement Wednesday morning, after which he will present his case. He is acting as his own attorney and is asserting an insanity defense.


LAMBERT IS charged with the Oct. 3, 2011 murder of his two grandfathers and the kidnapping of his great aunt.

Lambert is expected to call an expert witness to testify that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was legally insane at the time of the murders; the prosecutors will likely call his own expert witnesses during rebuttal.

In court papers and interviews with the Whidbey News-Times, Lambert claims that he committed the murders during schizophrenic delusions.

The prosecution, however, argues that Lambert committed the murders after injecting methamphetamine, which may or may not have caused hallucinations.

Monday afternoon, Banks finished his presentation with jailhouse recordings of conversations — phone calls and in-person — between Lambert and his mother, Susan Lambert.

Lambert is accused of killing her father, August Eisner, as well as his other grandfather, George Lambert. Both were 80 years old.

It’s clear in the recordings that Susan Lambert is extremely sad and upset, but she doesn’t abandon her son.

“You’re not getting anything from me. I love you Josh, but I hate what you did,” she said. “I want to make that very clear.”

In one recording, Susan Lambert asks her son what he was “on” when he committed the crimes, but he responds that he “can’t talk about too many details.”


“I DON’T know how I got to this point in the first place,” Lambert later said during his conversation with his mother.

Her one-word response was: “Drugs.” He didn’t respond, but was quiet for moments before changing the subject.

Joshua Lambert sounded surprised when she told him that the murders made national news.

“It’s not your fault. It’s my fault,” he said. “There’s no sorry big enough.”

He later called her and immediately told her she needs to dispose of “a dirty needle” in his bag on the side of the house. He said he wants to make sure a kid doesn’t get hurt.

His mother wasn’t happy with him.


“I BURIED one grandfather yesterday and I’m burying another today,” she said. “What do you want me to say to you?”

Joshua Lambert called his mother on the day of her father’s funeral and asked her to say something for him.

“Tell him I’m sorry and that I miss him,” he said. “That’s what I want to say to him.”

He told his mother he was sorry for “the whole situation” and that he didn’t mean for it to happen.

She blames him for choosing drugs and alcohol over his son, causing him to lose his temper for the only time during the recordings.


IN THE FINAL recording, Susan Lambert asks her son why he thinks it’s OK to stab someone 30 times.

“They weren’t dying right away and I couldn’t stand to watch them die slowly,” he said.

Joshua Lambert said it wasn’t like in a movie, where someone drops dead after being stabbed in the lungs. He repeated, calmly, that he didn’t want them to die slowly and in pain.


BANKS SPENT much of the day interviewing Detective Ed Wallace with the Island County Sheriff’s Office. Wallace was the lead detective on the case.

Wallace explained that Lambert contacted him from the jail and offered to help deputies find a shotgun he allegedly stole from his stepfather’s garage on the day before the murders.

Lambert wanted $50 in exchange for his help.

Wallace agreed and paid Lambert the money, but the gun was difficult to find.

The detectives even took Lambert out of jail to help look for the gun he had hidden in brush near Oak Harbor.

It was later found in the same vicinity.

Wallace testified that Lambert also offered to write a confession in exchange for $50 and a cup of coffee. Wallace eventually agreed and gave him the $50.

“I was reminded just prior to the start of trial that I neglected to give him the cup of coffee,” he said, adding that Lambert got his coffee on July 3.


WALLACE READ Lambert’s confession to the jury.

Lambert wrote that he was hallucinating at the time of the crimes and that he thought the only way to save his son from being tortured and killed was to get guns. He wrote that he didn’t want to kill his grandfathers, but that he would have killed anyone to save his son from “this tortuous death.”

“I would not of killed my grandpas to save my own life, but I would to save my child’s,” Wallace read, “and I also know that if my hallucination was real they would have gladly given their lives for his. I don’t want you to think the hallucinations ordered me to kill my grandpas.

“It was honestly the fastest way to a firearm, to save my boy.”


LAMBERT ALSO wrote that neither of his grandfathers were scared and fought him bravely.

“They showed me to keep fighting to your last breath, even if you know you gonna be dead in a minute or so,” Wallace read from the confession.

Lambert wrote that he had to tie up his aunt so she couldn’t call anyone.

“Even though I thought I was legally allowed to kill on my mission I didn’t know if every patrol officer had the kind of security clearance to know that,” Wallace read.

Lambert wrote that he was sorry and misses his “papas.”

“I think about them every day, just like I used to talk to them in my head all the time before they died, especially when I was in prison last time,” Wallace read.

“I love my papas.”

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