The suspect in the killing of an elderly Spokane man has a rap sheet so long that authorities used a community policing dragnet to capture him after a string of burglaries rattled a West Valley neighborhood.
That was more than a decade ago.
Several charges and two prison stints later, David K. Brewczynski sits in the Spokane County Jail, charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 80-year-old Kenneth Cross, of Spokane Valley. Police arrested Brewczynski, 42, last week on a warrant for failing to check in with his probation officer.
Brewczynski has surprised homeowners during daytime burglaries before, records show. But he’d never been linked to a homicide.
Cross’ 82-year-old girlfriend found his body Sept. 20 in his bedroom closet at his ransacked home on Boone Avenue. Five days later, Brewczynski showed up at a garage he rented on 51st Avenue and stored a gun, gloves, jewelry and Cross’ identification card, according to a search warrant. The owner of the garage found the ID and contacted police.
Brewczynski’s criminal record dates to the 1980s and includes three prison stints. Police connected him to about 40 daytime burglaries in 1997 after volunteers helped track him down. After his arrest, he wriggled free from handcuffs and ran, but police caught him again after a brief chase, according to newspaper archives.
A sheriff’s sergeant described him in 2004 as “one of our more prolific burglars.”
That was after Brewczynski was arrested in a residential burglary just months after finishing a seven-year sentence for the 1997 burglaries.
In one 1997 incident, Brewczynski held a homeowner who’d walked in on him at gunpoint, according to previously published reports. The man told the newspaper he spent about 12 minutes talking to Brewczynski before Brewczynski left on a bicycle. The homeowner wasn’t injured, nor was another man who came home to find Brewczynski ransacking the place in 2004. Brewczynski spent more than three years in prison for that burglary.
Police say Cross, a longtime Valley resident, was beaten before being shot twice in the head.
After Brewczynski’s arrest last week, he told deputies about another storage unit he rented, this one in the 1900 block of East Francis Avenue, where they found property from previous burglaries as well as seven packs of unfiltered Camel cigarettes matching the description of those stolen from Cross, according to a news release from Spokane County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan.
Brewczynski’s first prison stint came in November 1994, and his third and most recent was in January 2005, when he started the three-year term for a residential burglary.
He last visited his probation officer Sept. 17 and passed a drug test, according to the Washington Department of Corrections. But he wasn’t home when the officer stopped by Sept. 26 and failed to check in as instructed after he was reached by phone Sept. 29, according to DOC spokeswoman Maria Peterson. The DOC issued an arrest warrant the next day.
Brewczynski’s mother, Sharon , told the newspaper in 2004 that her son needed help for drug addiction but was “a very sweet person, and he’s never hurt anybody physically.”
On Tuesday, Sharon Brewczynski said that she had spoken with her son and that he maintained he was innocent in Cross’ death.
“David has never, ever been a violent person,” she said. “This just seems, I don’t know, not possible, I guess.”