A neo-Nazi angry over an FBI probe executed one of his best friends and two other people at a rural Washington home Friday, cops say. On Monday, the creepy suspect sneered for TV cameras covering his court appearance.
The Vancouver-area bloodbath led cops on a manhunt for Brent Ward Luyster, a tattoo artist and swastika-inked skinhead, who has been charged in the triple homicide and held without bail, the Columbian reported.
One alleged victim, a 31-year-old mother, survived his wrath.
Breanne Leigh was discovered at a Woodland minimart around 10:30 p.m. Friday, a few miles from the crime scene. Her face was nearly blown off. Unable to speak, Leigh answered a deputy’s questions by writing on scraps of paper and on a tissue box, according to court papers reviewed by The Daily Beast.
When asked who shot her, Leigh scribbled, “pretty sure Brent Luyster. He’s in big trouble. Fed,” a probable cause affidavit says.
Leigh pointed Clark County deputies to a rural Woodland residence, where the father of her children, Zachary David Thompson, was killed.
The deputy asked Leigh how she escaped. She wrote “passed out” and indicated she “army crawled” away to flag down a vehicle for help. She was able to hitch a ride to the convenience store two miles away, the affidavit says.
Then she wrote her own question to the deputy: Had her boyfriend been shot too?
A SWAT team descended on the home just before 11 p.m. and found Thompson, 36, and Joseph Mark Lamar, 38, lying dead in the driveway. The victims had gunshot wounds to their heads at close range, the affidavit states.
The body of a third victim, 43-year-old Janell Renee Knight, was discovered inside the residence, where she lived with Lamar, prosecutors say.
Now Luyster, 35, is charged with three counts of murder in the first degree, attempted murder, and unlawful possession of a firearm, court records show.
On Monday, he was escorted into Clark County court under heightened security, handcuffed and wearing a “suicide smock,” the Columbian reported. As he walked to the courtroom, he flashed a smile for KOIN 6 TV cameras.
It was the day Luyster was supposed to face trial for a different violent crime: allegedly pistol-whipping his ex-girlfriend at a Longview home. In that case, he faces charges of assault, harassment, and illegal firearm possession.
Court papers in Luyster’s murder case reveal more about his violent past.
His ex-girlfriend told cops he “had beaten her and had shot at her” in May 2016, and that she has a “no contact” order against him, the affidavit states.
The woman said she has a 5-year-old son with Luyster, who was reportedly trying to find her and snatch the boy, the affidavit states. Luyster allegedly directed his brother, Michael, and mother, Susan Dvorak, to track her down.
Michael Luyster—who has his own criminal record and white pride affiliation—and his friends appeared at homes of the woman’s relatives, asking for the location of her and her son, the affidavit says.
“[The woman] believed that Brent was facing his ‘third strike’ and that he would not go back to prison,” the affidavit states. “She believed that Brent was going to find her and hurt or kill her, and take [their son].”
Meanwhile, an FBI agent told Clark County authorities that Luyster is facing federal charges—for unlawful possession of a firearm—stemming from the May 2016 incident, the affidavit shows.
The ex-girlfriend has four children, two of which are “in hiding from Brent Luyster,” the G-man added. The agent said Dvorak allegedly contacted the woman’s mother and warned “something would happen to her daughter if [she] did not give Brent his son,” according to court papers.
Detectives also interviewed the alleged killer’s brother, Michael Luyster, who lives with their mother. He told police Brent Luyster and his girlfriend, Andrea Sibley, moved in with them weeks before the shooting, the affidavit says.
Michael Luyster claims Dvorak called him Friday night and demanded he come home immediately. When he arrived, Brent Luyster and his gal pal were acting “tense.” Dvorak ordered Michael Luyster to take Brent Luyster’s 12-year-old son away from the house, court papers state.
The brother told cops Brent Luyster was driving Sibley’s gold Ford Explorer. (Luyster was in the vehicle Saturday afternoon when Cowlitz County deputies and state troopers arrested him without incident on Ocean Beach Highway, KGW reported.)
Dvorak provided police with more details on her son’s mental state. She said Luyster “was upset that the Feds were getting involved in the case from Longview” and at “not having seen his son… in two months.”
The day of the slayings, Luyster and Sibley had been home most of the day. Sibley left at one point to buy Luyster a six-pack of beer at Walmart, she said.
Dvorak admitted she told Michael Luyster to come home, telling cops Brent Luyster wanted to speak to him. After the brothers talked, Brent Luyster and Sibley left the house and didn’t return, the affidavit says.
She ordered Michael Luyster to take his nephew away because she “wanted things to be peaceful in the house,” she told cops, according to the affidavit. Still, she denied threatening Brent Luyster’s ex-girlfriend or her mother.
Before Luyster was caught, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office released full-body photographs of their 6-foot-tall, 200-pound suspect.
His tattooed torso includes at least four swastikas and the label “skinhead” across his abdomen. Scrawled across his back is a bloodthirsty call for “RaHoWa,” or the abbreviation for racial holy war used by white supremacists.
Indeed, the hate appears to run in Luyster’s family.
Luyster and his brother Robert Arlen Luyster were on the Anti-Defamation League’s radar in 2013, when they allegedly attacked a black man at a Vancouver bar.
The attack was allegedly sparked when Brent Luyster spotted an interracial couple cuddling. “Look at this white girl over here with a stupid [racial slur]; that’s gross,” Luyster allegedly said, according to the Columbian.
Moments later, Robert Luyster ran to the third suspect’s car, grabbed a pistol and loaded it with a round of ammo, prosecutors said. Then he handed the gun to Brent Luyster, who singled out a black man and threatened to shoot him, the Columbian reported.
The skinhead brothers were involved in another racially-motivated attack in 2001, when they allegedly punched, kicked, and beat a 45-year-old black man with boards. They also smashed the windows of the victim’s truck, according to the Columbian.
Four years later, Brent Luyster was involved in another attack on a black man. An accomplice, Jeremiah Prueitt, allegedly shot the victim in the leg, the Columbian reported.
It’s unclear whether Luyster was convicted for the earlier hate crimes. Online records show he has a rap sheet as detailed as his Hitler tattoos, with felony convictions in 2005 and 2010, including for possession of stolen property.
Friends and fellow white supremacists took to Facebook to discuss their grief over Luyster’s latest criminal case.
But they were tight-lipped when messaged by reporters. “He is a great father and the best tattoo artist there is,” one friend told The Daily Beast.
Of Luyster and his victim, Zachary Thompson, another friend said, “No offense, but before this they were both amazing friends and great fathers. That’s it.”
Some friends posted a photo of Thompson, who has a shaved head, and Leigh with the words “In Loving Memory.”
In Facebook comments, one longtime friend wrote, “I know he [Luyster] had to be under a lot of stress facing trumped up charges. My heart beats with sadness this day will never change the way I feel for Brent.”
Another friend called the slayings “unspeakable.”
“I can’t think of any reason that would cause him [Luyster] to turn on one of his best friends,” he wrote on Facebook. “Losing two of my closest brothers in one day, to such a fucked up way. I have to know.”
The friend later added, “They’ve been my brothers for about 14 years now, since before Zach skinned up, and this will haunt me forever. I can’t imagine what went through their mind.”