Man: Person of interest in Wybenga case appeared nervous

Matthew Brunn's Jan. 5, 2015 mug shot from the Kent County Correctional Facility.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man police called a person of interest in the death investigation of an 81-year-old Wyoming man was captured in Detroit Saturday.

Cornelius Wybenga. (Undated photo courtesy)
(An undated courtesy photo of Wybenga.)

Matthew Brunn, 29, a person of interest in the death of Casey Wybenga, was arraigned Tuesday morning in Wyoming for tampering with an electronic monitoring device. Police said he cut off his tether last Monday.

Wybenga’s body was found in a Walker motel last Tuesday and authorities are still investigating Brunn’s alleged connection to his suspicious death.

“We’re really going to miss him, a lot,” said his niece Rosemarie Gallaspy.

Ben White said he was with both Brunn and Wybenga early Monday evening, the day before Wybenga’s body was found. White said Wybenga brought Brunn over to his house and Wybenga drove them all to a nearby CVS. White and Brunn went inside to get money out so Brunn could get some essentials.

“He seemed really happy and optimistic,” White said.

White said Wybenga then drove him home and dropped him off. He said he offered to go shopping with them, but Brunn said no.

“Next thing I know, I’m getting woken up at six something in the morning and Matt was at my house and he had an emergency and he had Casey’s car, and I went out and we talked,” White said.

He said Brunn told him when he was shopping with Wybenga, Wybenga started to have issues breathing so he brought him to the hospital but he claimed he had to leave the hospital because Wybenga’s family didn’t want him around.

It’s a story that’s clearly not true and refuted by the victim’s family.

“At 6 in the morning, he was anxious, he was nervous. I figured it was just before he missed his curfew,” White said.

White said he and Brunn hung out for a bit then Brunn told him he was going to grab some sleeping pills out of Wybenga’s car, but he left and White never heard from him again.

The next day he heard Wybenga was found dead in a hotel room.

“Oh, I was shocked,” White said.

While police have called Wybenga’s death a homicide, the autopsy was inconclusive, according to a source close to the investigation. At this point, the cause of death is listed as “pending.”

Regardless, Wybenga’s family says they blame Brunn.

“Even if he had a heart attack or whatever the case may be we don’t know yet exactly everything. Say he had a heart attack Matt is still the cause of that heart attack because uncle Casey wouldn’t have been there. I think he caused stress to him, no matter what he did, he did something to my uncle and it caused his death,” Gallaspy said.

Brunn was arrested Saturday in Detroit. Wybenga’s family said news of his capture was a relief.

“Very good news, with goosebumps. Finally able to smile for once,” Gallaspy said.

But it does little to heal the pain from the sudden loss of someone they loved so much.

“I miss my brother, I love him a lot,” Katherine Shockency, Wybenga’s sister, said.

Sunday, online records from the Michigan Department of Corrections showed that Brunn was being held at the Detroit Reentry Center. He was returned to Kent County Monday. He was expected to be questioned by police, though he did not immediately face charges in the death.

Wybenga’s car, which Brunn was thought to have been driving, was also recovered in Detroit and Walker police were notified, the MDOC spokesperson said.

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