Cambria man had accomplices in half-brother's killing, authorities say

Sheriff's report says witnesses' statements indicated they were involved in covering up crime

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comOctober 3, 2012 

The Cambria man who allegedly murdered his half brother in August attempted to cover up the crime with the help of others, according to an investigative report.

Brandon Henslee, 22, is charged with murdering 20-year-old Tyler Hanks. An autopsy revealed that Hanks suffered multiple stab wounds and blunt-force trauma.

Stephen Smith, 47, a family friend, who was allegedly at the home on the day of the killing, was arrested Sunday on a probation violation unrelated to the case. The Sheriff’s Office would not say Wednesday if anyone else might be charged with a crime.

“We are not releasing any information on that aspect of the case because it’s an active investigation,” spokes-man Tony Cipolla said.

But, according to the investigators’ report, “witnesses provided several statements that were often inconsistent and indicated, to various degrees, that they were involved in covering up and/or delaying the progress of the murder investigation. They resisted in supplying some information and withheld evidence.”

According to a case synopsis, filed in court this week, the following occurred:

On Aug. 26, police responded to a missing-person report. Residents at Hanks’ home said he had not been seen since Aug. 22 or 23.

When police found blood at the scene, they conducted a search and found Hanks’ body under a tree in a wooded area, roughly a half mile from the home Hanks shared with Henslee, his mother, Sheri Grayson, her husband, Mike Coffin, and Smith.

Witnesses said Henslee had made life-threatening statements toward Hanks a few hours before the killing. Later, multiple witnesses said they saw someone who looked like Henslee moving a large yard-waste can around the time the killing is believed to have occurred. Witnesses also said they saw Henslee rinsing blood out of the can.

When Henslee was interviewed, he gave statements that “implicated knowledge and participation in the crime,” which police believe occurred inside the home. Henslee also had an injury that was consistent with the instrument that police believe to be the murder weapon.

Attorney Ken Cirisan, who was initially assigned to represent Henslee, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A number listed as Grayson and Coffin’s was no longer in service.

Henslee has been charged with murder, with two enhancements: one for having a prior felony and the other for use of a deadly weapon.

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