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Andrew Lee Muns
Ensign, United States Navy
New Jersey State Flag
From News Reports:

AL Muns PHOTO

It was 1968; the U.S. was waging an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam and sailors went missing all the time.

Muns was the new paymaster aboard the USS Cacapon, a refueling ship based at Subic Bay in the Philippines, a forward staging area for U.S. forces in Vietnam. When he dissapeared, the Navy discovered that $8,600 was missing from the ship's safe; since Muns had access to safe, officials decided that he had taken the money and run. Case closed.

But Muns' sister, Mary Lou Taylor, couldn't accept the official version of her brother's disappearance. She vowed to uncover the truth and restore her family's honor.

"It broke my father's heart … He literally had a heart attack three years later," said Taylor." I'm not blaming the Navy for his heart attack, but it was harder than just losing a son."

A generation later, Taylor's search has led to a shocking confession that sheds new light on the case and helps lift the shadow that has hung over her brother's memory.

A Generation of Grief 

In the mid-1970s, after years of holding out hope that Muns might return, his family decided to have him declared legally dead. But when they asked the Navy to supply an American flag to present to his family at the memorial service, the Navy refused 

"'Oh, no, they would never do that,'" Taylor says she was told. "'That's for honorable discharges.'"

And so the Muns family was left without answers, without a body and without an honorable end to their grief.

Eventually, Taylor decided to change that. She turned to the Internet, posting a message on a Vietnam veterans' message board
looking for sailors who served with her brother on the Cacapon.

In a stroke of luck, a former member of that crew, Tim Rosaire, had just logged on to the bulletin board for the first time.

"I instantly knew what it was," he said. "I wrote her back saying, 'Yes, and I may have been one of the last people to see him.'"

Rosaire had been the ship's journalist, publishing a newsletter and a kind of yearbook. He had used Muns' cabin as his office during the day and got to know the young ensign.

"I knew him well enough to know that he wouldn't have stolen the money," said Rosaire, who supplied Taylor with names and some photographs of other crew members.

Taylor tracked down the ship's captain, only to learn that he had recently died. But his widow told Taylor her husband had been haunted by Muns' disappearance, suspecting that Muns may have been the victim of foul play.

Taylor combed through the Navy's original reports of the investigation, and found things that didn't add up.

"There were people on the ship who were deliberately lying to create a motive for why Andy would have left," she concluded.

And while $8,600 was missing, there was $51,000 left the safe. If her brother had stolen the money, why not all of it?

Reopening the Case 

The Muns family wanted the case reopened, but the Navy said substantial new evidence was needed to do so.

So in the mid-1990s, Taylor set out to find that evidence. She found the agent who had originally investigated the case for the Naval Investigative Service, Ray McGady. He was retired and living in North Carolina.

McGady told Taylor he remembered the case of her brother's disappearance very well. "Probably better than any other case I've ever, ever worked," he said.

McGady helped Taylor get the attention of Pete Hughes, head of the newly created "cold-case" squad at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Hughes soon agreed that there were a number of questions that remained unanswered. "We saw some things that didn't make a whole lot of sense and caused us to want to reactivate the case," he said.

Thirty years later, for the first time, the focus now shifted from a theft to a homicide. Hughes assembled a team of homicide investigators, including a criminal profiler. They studied the statements from 1968 and began reinterviewing crew members.

A Confession on Videotape

Suspicion began to focus on several former crew members, including Michael LeBrun, who was living outside Kansas City, Mo., selling real estate. In 1968, LeBrun worked in the disbursing office with Muns, had access to the safe and was one of the
first to suggest that Muns might have deserted.

Hughes knew that without a body or any physical evidence, the only way to make a case was to get LeBrun to admit to the murder. After four interviews with LeBrun, Hughes devised a strategy: Taylor would attend the next interview with LeBrun.

Eventually, LeBrun's defenses crumbled, and he described in detail how he had strangled Muns. He said that he had stolen the money and that Muns had caught him. LeBrun said he panicked and killed the ensign.

Investigators say that to cover up the murder, Lebrun explained how he dumped the body in one of the ship's huge oil tanks. Muns' body was never found.

The interview was recorded on videotape. Lebrun was charged with murder.

But he pleaded not guilty and is out on bail.

In a statement to 20/20, LeBrun said that agents had "lied to me about evidence they had against me [they had none], and applied intense psychological pressure, again pre-planned, threatening me with the loss of my family, property, and reputation by prosecuting me for premeditated murder … I was faced with the possibility of either being wrongfully convicted, and the certainty of being financially ruined … or, as the Federal agents said, I could admit to a lesser crime on which the statute of limitation had run out and would not be prosecuted."

A federal judge has agreed, in part, ruling that prosecutors cannot use the videotaped confession because LeBrun's constitutional rights were violated. The judge found that LeBrun had been advised of his rights at several previous meetings, but not at the last interview when he allegedly confessed.

U.S. District Judge Dean Wipple wrote that it appeared agents "gradually overwhelmed LeBrun's will … lying about evidence against him … promising him he would not be prosecuted if he confessed …"

Without a legal and reliable confession, the government does not have much of a case. They are filing an appeal of the confession ruling.

Restoring Honor

But Taylor said she finally got what she was looking for.

"I still don't care whether this man goes to jail, I really don't," she said. "In some way, I feel like he's been paying for this his entire life, whether he knows it or not."

This summer, 33 years after Muns disappeared aboard the Cacapon, a ceremonial casket covered with an American flag made its way to a gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery. Friends, family and naval criminal investigators came from around the country to watch as Muns was given full honors in recognition of his service to the Navy and his country.

Muns is no longer classified as a deserter. 

"This is what I would like my parent to have had 33 years ago," said Taylor. "I'm very proud of my brother. He was a very honorable person.


Persistance And Faith Sove A 32-Year-Old Puzzle
Thursday, July 26, 2001

This story is for anyone who has ever leafed through an old yearbook and thought, “Oh yeah, that guy. I wonder whatever happened to him?”

It is for hometown friends of Andrew Lee Muns, of Montclair (New Jersey) High School’s Class of 1961, who disappeared from a Navy ship moored in Subic Bay, Philippines, on January 17, 1968, and was never heard from again.

For more than 30 years, there was no answer to the question, “Whatever happened to Andy Muns?”

The Navy called him a deserter who had stolen $8,000 from the ship’s safe.

Andy’s father died in 1971, his mother 10 years later. They died knowing the truth about their son — that he was an honorable man — but never knowing the facts.

Because Andy’s younger sister, Mary Lou Taylor, never stopped believing the Navy was wrong about her brother, she never gave up hope, and in 1998, she persuaded the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Cold Case Squad to reopen the investigation.

Last September, a former sailor confessed to murdering him.

And last month, Andrew Lee Muns was given a memorial service with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Neither [of my parents] ever believed he had voluntarily left the ship,” Taylor said in a telephone interview shortly after the memorial. “There was no doubt in their minds.

“I used to hope that I was wrong, that he had deserted, because that would mean he was alive,” she said. “I knew that wasn’t true, even though I hoped.”

In 1995, the youngest of Taylor’s three children was a senior in high school, her career as a psychologist was well established, and she had time and the psychic energy to devote to the search for the truth about her brother.

The very day she logged onto a Vietnam veterans’ message board on the Internet, Taylor met up with Tim Rosaire, who had been the ship’s journalist on the USS Cacapon, her brother’s vessel. Rosaire had shared quarters with her brother, and took the last photo ever made of him.

“I started out reading,” Taylor said, “and I thought, ‘This guy’s faking,’ and then he included details that no one could have known… I started yelling for my husband, ‘You’ve got to see this!’”

Rosaire had never been on the veterans’ Web site, either, until that day.

"I literally was on that thing less than 20 or 30 seconds,” he said. “The first message I came back with was Mary Lou’s.”

Rosaire said he was able to give Taylor a tremendous amount of background information, about how things were organized on the ship, who the crew members were.

The USS Cacapon was a fleet oiler, supporting Navy operations in Vietnam, “not a glorious kind of duty,” Rosaire said. The Cacapon was sent out for refueling the fleet — in Navy parlance, underway replenishing, or “unrep” — and it serviced ships such as aircraft carriers, destroyers, and ammunition freighters.

“It was basically a floating gas station,” Rosaire said. “It’s rough work, with long, long hours.” Every man on the ship had an “unrep station,” no matter what his position, and Andy Muns, payroll officer, was brand-new and low man on the totem pole.

“He got every crap watch,” said Rosaire, “but I never heard him complain.”

Muns was on the ship for only three weeks before he vanished, but Rosaire felt he had gotten to know his shipmate fairly well.

“You think you’ve sized somebody up and you got a sense of what they’re like,” he said. So when Rosaire heard, a few years later, that Muns had been found in Hong Kong with the missing $8,000, he found it hard to believe.

“I didn’t know that story wasn’t true until 1995.”

Those who had known Andy Muns well, his family and close friends, never doubted it was wrong.

Muns was one of a quartet of pals that included John Kaveny, now living in California; Bob Mohr, who now lives in Verona; and Alan Bullen, a resident of Florida. The Muns family had come to Montclair in 1960, and Andy graduated from MHS with his friends the following June. In high school and during their college years, the four friends hung out, chipping golf balls into the swimming pool, playing basketball, double-dating and driving cross-country together. Kaveny spoke about his friend in a phone interview.

“Looking back on my life, I had to say that Andy was my best friend, ever,” he said.

“Andy was the type of guy, you knew it was totally out of character,” Kaveny said. “He’d go to a store, they’d give him too much change, and he’d get out of the car to give it back. I can definitely see him with the safe open, protecting it.”

The Navy’s investigation of Muns’ disappearance produced no results, and he was labeled a deserter. “Right in the middle of Vietnam, they had a lot of bodies to deal with,” said Kaveny. “I’m sure he fell into a category. That’s all they could do.”

“It’s almost like you want to say the Navy had no heart, but what it had was a procedure,” said Mohr. “They knew something had happened, but couldn’t prove it.”

Mary Lou Taylor’s memory of the investigation was that the family was left out of it altogether.

“When I was 18, we couldn’t pursue it. My father worked with the Navy as much as he could, other people we knew helped, but it was an open investigation and they were not allowing the family to participate.”

Taylor said that when she finally got copies of the original investigation, “we knew then that people had lied in their testimony. There were people who tried to create motives for my brother for leaving the ship. One said he had talked with my brother about their interest in stock car racing, and none of that was true. We were never given that until years later.”

Looking back, Rosaire said what the Navy did was “outrageous.”

“When he disappeared, everything was left in his stateroom, his civilian clothes, his Navy uniforms. He disappeared like smoke. For the Navy to say he was AWOL was crazy. I didn’t arrive at that conclusion then, but looking back, it just didn’t make sense. Not cooperating with his parents… I think they did a slapdash investigation and buried the whole thing.”

Taylor, an associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, pointed out that the AWOL explanation gave peace to the rest of the crew.

"No one wants to believe they live in danger. It was a lot more comfortable to believe he left on his own power than to believe something bad happened to him.”

The man who confessed to killing Andy Muns was an enlisted supply clerk named Michael LeBrun. He was in the middle of burglarizing the ship’s safe when Muns interrupted him. LeBrun confessed in September 2000 to strangling Muns and throwing his body into one of the ship’s oil tanks. LeBrun received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1969. He was indicted in March and is awaiting trial in Missouri.

After LeBrun confessed to investigators last September, he agreed to talk with Taylor, and he confessed to her as well.

“It was a very strange meeting,” she said. “I could never have imagined when I started trying to find out what happened to my brother that any of this would come to pass.”

There was a kind of satisfaction for Taylor just in knowing the exact date her brother had died.

“That was the most important thing of all. And I really miss my parents when I think about this, it would have been a wonderful thing for them.” In 1976, her mother had a New Jersey court declare Andy legally dead.

Taylor’s surviving siblings are her brothers Tom and Skip, both of whom now live in Dallas. Another brother, Doug, closest to Andy in age, died last November of cancer. Taylor said Doug had always been supportive of her efforts.

“He called every week, and would listen forever as I got pretty obsessive about it,” she said. “He survived long enough to know that we had gotten a confession.”

Mohr remembered how, when they would play buddy-up basketball games in the back yard, Andy was “rough and tumble. He ran over you a little bit.” He said he could see some of his old friend’s determination in Mary Lou Taylor, and that her quickness and lucidity were instrumental in uncovering the truth.

Kaveny said he was “real proud” of his old friend’s little sister.

“The thing that really made it happen was [Andy’s] sister,” said Rosaire. “She is truly an amazing woman.”

Rosaire first met Taylor when she visited a sister ship of the Cacapon in California. The Cacapon had been decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1973, and the sister ship, part of the “mothball fleet,” gave Taylor an idea of what her brother’s surroundings were the last few weeks of his life. Rosaire and Taylor met again at the memorial service in June.

Mohr described the ceremony in an interview at The Montclair Times. An empty casket was carried through the cemetery on a horse-drawn black caisson. Mohr said that for a moment, he almost believed his old friend’s body was there.

“When you move from old memories to the occasion, you kind of relive the spirit of who he was. You see the caisson and you think he’s there.”

Mohr said that when he saw the hillside where Muns’ memorial tablet was placed, it became clear that no bodies could be buried there. “Up on the hill, you recognized the difference [between memorials and actual graves] and went back to understanding.”

"It was incredible, an incredible service,” said Anne LaBonte Neff, a high school friend of Mary Lou Taylor’s. She said that she had been amazed by Taylor’s determination and passion, made manifest by the size of the gathering. The service was attended by nearly 200 people, including more than 80 family members, family friends, and members of the Navy’s Criminal Investigation Service.

“We all bonded,” said Neff. “We’d all been so involved in Andy’s life all these years, even though he’s been gone.”

Tom Muns addressed the group, calling the ceremony a celebration of his brother’s honor, not a sad time.

“That’s what the whole thing was about,” Neff said, “restoring Andy’s honor.”

Neff added that though Taylor wants to see justice done, she has achieved her true objective. “She wanted to have her brother’s name cleared.”

“From my perspective,” Taylor said, “obviously that goal’s been reached. His honor is restored.

“I’m not certain that I believe that everything happens for a purpose,” said Taylor.
"But I do feel that there’s been an energy to this entire search this last six years, and certainly you could characterize it as the hand of God or some kind of spiritual force.

“There’ve been too many coincidences, too many things that have happened… if you wrote fiction, no one would believe it. So I’ve felt all along that I’ve been following a path and I didn’t know where it was going to get me, but I knew it was the right path.”

John Kaveny said, “Andy was kind of like everybody’s son. He had a great appreciation for life.”

At the conclusion of the memorial ceremony at Arlington, the honor guard folded the flag that had covered the empty casket and presented it to Mary Lou Taylor.

“It’s the flag my mother should have gotten,” she said.

A scholarship fund has been established in Andrew Lee Muns’ name at Gettysburg College, his alma mater. Contributions may be sent to Gettysburg College, Attn: Andrew Muns Fund, 300 N. Washington St., Gettysburg, PA 17325.


Courtesy of the Washington Post:

More Than 30 Years Later, Navy Restores Ensign's Honor
By Steve Vogel
Thursday, June 21, 2001

Ensign Andy Muns disappeared while serving aboard a Navy ship moored in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. He lost his life, and then he lost his honor.

The Navy listed him as a deserter, suspecting that he had stolen money from the ship's safe.

For more than 30 years, Muns's family pushed for more answers, convinced that there had been an injustice. They have finally been vindicated. The Navy now says Muns was killed by a shipmate when he interrupted a burglary aboard the ship in 1968.

At Arlington National Cemetery this month, the Navy held a funeral service for Muns with full military honors.

"Andy, we always knew you were a man of honor -- and today everybody else knows it, too," his brother Thomas Muns told nearly 200 family members and friends who attended the ceremony June 8, 2001.

In Missouri, Michael Edwards LeBrun, who served with Muns as a petty officer aboard the USS Cacapon, has been charged with the killing. LeBrun has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

If LeBrun is convicted, the Muns case will be the oldest homicide ever solved by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service's cold-case unit, said Larry Jackson, a spokesman at NCIS headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard.

It was the prompting of the family, particularly, that caused the Navy to reopen the case. "We always knew that someday something had to happen," said Muns's younger sister, Mary Lou Taylor, of Wisconsin. "We had to do something to make it right."

Andy Muns, from New Jersey, had joined the Navy after graduating from Gettysburg College. After reporting for service on the Cacapon, an oiler, he sent his family a postcard from Hong Kong saying he was having a grand time. "That was generally
how he approached life -- as an adventure," Taylor said. "Andy was a very open, friendly person, very good looking, quick to make friends."

Muns disappeared while the ship was moored in Subic Bay. The refueling vessel had been supporting Navy operations in Vietnam. Muns was the ship's payroll officer and LeBrun, a petty officer 2nd class, was a supply clerk.

Navy investigators found $8,000 missing from the ship's safe and suspected that Muns had taken the money. The family never believed it.

"It would have been totally out of character for him," Taylor said. But she said she often wished it were true, because at least that would have meant he was alive.

The case became inactive after Muns was never found. The family sought redress from the Navy without success. But when Taylor brought the case to the attention of the cold-case squad several years ago, she found agents willing to listen. The probe
was reopened in 1998.

"There were some questions that needed to be answered," said Pete Hughes, the special agent who took charge of the investigation.

After some new investigation, the agents interviewed LeBrun, the last man reported to have seen Muns. During a follow-up interview, LeBrun described the killing, according to court testimony. The Navy investigators contend that when Muns happened upon a burglary, LeBrun beat and strangled the officer and dumped his body in an oil tank, according to news accounts of a March hearing in federal court in Kansas City.

NCIS agents were among those who attended the ceremony at Arlington, along with some of Muns's shipmates and about 80 relatives from across the country. "It was really fitting for someone whose honor was being restored after 33 years," Taylor said.

At the ceremony, Taylor was given the flag that draped her brother's empty casket.

"That's what she's wanted for 33 years -- the American flag due her brother, who rather than a thief and deserter as the Navy first ruled, was really a hero defending American property," said her cousin, Kent Collins.


More Than 30 Years Later, Navy Restores Ensign's Honor
By Steve Vogel
Sunday, June 24, 2001

Ensign Andy Muns disappeared while serving aboard a Navy ship moored in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. He lost his life, and then he lost his honor.

The Navy listed him as a deserter, suspecting that he had stolen money from the ship's safe.

For more than 30 years, Muns's family pushed for more answers, convinced there had been an injustice. They have finally been vindicated. The Navy now says Muns was killed by a shipmate when he interrupted a burglary aboard the ship in 1968.

At Arlington National Cemetery this month, the Navy held a funeral for Muns with full military honors.

"Andy, we always knew you were a man of honor -- and today everybody else knows it, too," his brother, Thomas Muns, told nearly 200 family members and friends who attended the ceremony June 8, 2001.

In Missouri, Michael Edwards LeBrun, who served with Muns as a petty officer aboard the USS Cacapon, has been charged with the killing. LeBrun has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

If LeBrun is convicted, the Muns case will be the oldest homicide ever solved by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service's cold-case unit, said Larry Jackson, a spokesman at NCIS headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard.

It was the prompting of the family, particularly, that caused the Navy to reopen the case.

"We always knew that someday something had to happen," said Muns's younger sister, Mary Lou Taylor, who lives in Wisconsin. "We had to do something to make it right."

Andy Muns, of New Jersey, had joined the Navy after graduating from Gettysburg College. After reporting for service on the Cacapon, an oiler, he sent his family a postcard from Hong Kong saying he was having a grand time. "That was generally how
he approached life -- as an adventure," Taylor said. "Andy was a very open, friendly person, very good looking, quick to make friends."

Muns disappeared while the ship was moored in Subic Bay. The refueling vessel had been supporting Navy operations in Vietnam. Muns was the ship's payroll officer and LeBrun, a petty officer 2nd class, was a supply clerk.

Navy investigators found $8,000 missing from the ship's safe and suspected that Muns had taken the money and run. The family never believed that.

"It would have been totally out of character for him," Taylor said. But she said she often wished it were true -- at least that would have meant he was alive.

The case became inactive when Muns was never found. The family sought redress from the Navy without success. But when Taylor brought the case to the attention of the cold-case squad several years ago, she found agents willing to listen. The probe
was reopened in 1998.

"There were some questions that needed to be answered," said Pete Hughes, the special agent who took charge of the investigation.

After some new investigation, the agents interviewed LeBrun, the last man reported to have seen Muns. During a follow-up interview, LeBrun described the killing, according to court testimony. The Navy investigators contend that when Muns happened upon a burglary, LeBrun beat and strangled the officer and dumped his body in an oil tank, according to news accounts of a March hearing in federal court in Kansas City.

NCIS agents were among those who attended the ceremony at Arlington, along with some of Muns's shipmates and about 80 relatives from across the country. "It was really fitting for someone whose honor was being restored after 33 years," Taylor said.

At the ceremony, Taylor was given the flag that draped her brother's empty casket.

"That's what she's wanted for 33 years -- the American flag due her brother, who rather than a thief and deserter as the Navy first ruled, was really a hero defending American property," said her cousin, Kent Collins.



E-Mail: February 2004:

Sir:

Your article about Andrew Lee Muns was both moving and satisfying. I would like to add that before there were his friends in Upper Montclair, New Jersey there were his many friends in his home town of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

Andy was raised in Mt. Lebanon and spent most of his young life in that wonderful community. He was a very popular boy as he moved through the Mt. Lebanon School system from kindergarten through tenth grade when he and his family moved to Upper Montclair.

Andy's Mt. Lebanon friends were with him as he grew from a little boy playing in the dirt behind Lincoln Grade School to a handsome and mature High School Sophmore.  We were there when Andy experienced his many firsts as most young men do; from sports to the first time he drove a car as well as his first date and everything in between. Back then one might have called us a "gang" but later on we just became a group of friends who "hung around together".

Friends like Buzz Davis, Skip Garvin, Tom Bird, The Roth brothers, Fran and Jerry, Denny Deel, Dave Hughes, Mouncey Ferguson and many more.....plus his two best friends Tripp Evans and this writer, Tim Hildebrand. And we all knew Andy's brothers Skip and Doug quite well.

We were all shocked and heartbroken when the news of Andy's murder was released. After Andy, moved most of his Mt. Lebanon friends lost track of him.  I was fortunate enough to see him a few times after the move and, in fact, visited him and his entire family at their wonderful vacation home in Deep Creek Maryland in the summer of 1961 which was the last time I saw him. After a few years as can happen in these situations he and I ceased contact.

Over the years I tried to locate Andy to no avail until one day in 2002 I was reading the local paper and on an inside page I read a headline about a murdered Navy Ensign whose reputation had been restored. Immediately my body went cold and my heart began to pound......for some reason I just knew it was Andy!  As I read the story my sadness and anger grew.  By the time I was finished I was both crying and yelling.  The details of my sweet, brave friend's death were almost unbearable and to this day I find it hard to believe the fate that befell Andy and, as a result, his entire family.

I notified all of Andy's Mt. Lebanon friends with whom I was still in contact and each one of their reactions was the same as mine.  Andy was one of the good guys and had a wonderful life ahead of him. He would have done many good works for the country and all of the people whom he would touch.  If you wish to know the kind of guy Andrew Lee Muns was just look at any of his pictures and see that big, happy, warm smile and those bright eyes. That's Andy.....my friend....Forever Young!

Regards,
 Tim Hildebrand



Posted on Saturday, March. 25, 2006:
'I take full responsibility' for death of Navy officer, says defendant, now 60Four-year term for 1968 killing
By MARK MORRIS
Courtesy of The Kansas City Star

Mary Lou Taylor remembered her brother Friday as happy, caring, responsible and smart. And she recalled the last postcard Navy Ensign Andrew Lee Muns sent home in 1968.

Before a hushed gallery in U.S. District Court, a composed Taylor read the 38-year-old message.

“Hi,” her brother wrote. “The world is small and beautiful. The ship has been great — good officers, good crew. I’ve seen and done more in the last month than most people do in a year.”

Taylor paused a moment, then continued her testimony.

“Andy was happy,” she said, “until Michael LeBrun killed him.”

LeBrun, 60, listened quietly from his seat a few feet away. His attorney, Glenn E. Bradford, later said that LeBrun had struggled with Muns’ death since the night he strangled the young officer in an office on the USS Cacapon, which was anchored at the Subic Bay Naval Station in the Philippines.

Chief U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple on Friday sentenced LeBrun to four years in prison.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” LeBrun said. “I’ve tried to live the last 37 years as a law-abiding citizen.”
Taylor said afterward that she was satisfied with the sentence. She applauded Pete Hughes and Jim Grebas, special agents with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Todd Graves and Matt Whitworth, federal prosecutors in Kansas City, for sticking with the case.

“I’m concerned about the whole idea of justice,” she said. “I don’t think that because someone hasn’t done anything bad for 37 years we should just let them go.”

Grebas noted that the motto of the NCIS cold case squad is, “To the living we owe respect; to the dead we owe the truth.”

“We’ve spent thousands of dollars on this case,” he said. “But in the end, it was about Andy Muns and his family. Today, Andy Muns lives.”

In September, LeBrun pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Muns’ death. LeBrun said he was stealing money from the ship’s safe on Jan. 17, 1968, when Muns came upon him. LeBrun said he strangled Muns, 24, and smashed his head against the deck. LeBrun said he put the body and the money — about $8,600 — in a tank of fuel oil. But because Muns’ body was never recovered, the Navy first concluded that Muns had deserted. In the late 1990s, Taylor began pushing the Navy to reopen the investigation. Agents focused on LeBrun, who had settled in Greenwood in Jackson County.

In an interview with investigators in September 2000, LeBrun confessed to killing Muns. After the interview, the agents introduced him to Taylor and another agent, who was playing the role of Muns’ ill brother.

Prosecutors in March 2001 charged LeBrun with first-degree murder, and the case began a turbulent run through the courts. Whipple ruled that a videotape of the confession should be suppressed because he believed it had been coerced.
Eventually the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the confession could be admitted. LeBrun pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter a few days before his trial was to open in September.

Taylor, who is writing a book about her brother’s killing and her search for justice, said that Friday’s sentencing would provide only the epilogue, not the final chapter. That came in June 2001, when the Navy held a funeral for her brother in Virginia and announced that Muns no longer was considered a deserter.

“The real resolution was that day at Arlington National Cemetery,” Taylor said. “This is the denouement.”

LeBrun began serving his sentence Friday in the Jackson County Detention Center. He faces state sodomy charges for allegedly assaulting an 8-year-old girl in 2005.

MUNS, ANDREW L
ENS   US NAVY
VIETNAM
DATE OF BIRTH: 10/12/1943
DATE OF DEATH: 01/17/1968 
BURIED AT: SECTION MC  SITE 26-L
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY


Posted: 2 July 2001   Updated: 25 August 2001 Updated:25 March 2002 Updated: 30 December 2003 Updated: 7 February 2004 Updated: 17 December 2005 Updated: 26 March 2006