Suspect accused of murdering beloved DC-area photographer to remain in jail without bond

A Pennsylvania man, accused of murdering a well-known photographer in the D.C. area, will remain in jail without bond.

Brandon Holbrook, 47, is facing three charges – including first-degree murder – in connection to the death of 51-year-old Joseph Shymanski of Huntingtown, Maryland. 

Shymanski was reported missing by his ex-wife who arrived at his Huntingtown home on Sept. 4 for a child custody exchange, but he was not there.

According to charging documents, a neighbor saw Shymanski around 4 p.m. the day before. During a brief search of his home and garage, a deputy found Shymasnki’s only registered car parked in the driveway and his cell phone inside.


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On Sept. 5, detectives and crime scene technicians from the Calvert County Sheriff's Office returned to Shymanski’s home and located blood evidence on the driveway and suspected foul play. Extensive searches were done in the wooded areas by the home, along with trails and a hunting area, though nothing was found.

During an interview with Shymanski’s ex-wife, she disclosed Holbrook was her last significant other and that he "expressed anger towards Shymanski for what he has put her through," according to court documents. Holbrook’s truck was spotted by license plate readers leaving Calvert County on the night a neighbor last spotted Shymanski alive.

When detectives interviewed Holbrook in Pennsylvania, they reported smelling "odor of decomposition" from the back of his truck.


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"There were also maggots located crawling all over the back of the truck," according to court documents.

Holbrook initially told detectives he was nowhere near Calvert County after providing a detailed timeline, but when questioned about his truck passing through tag readers, detectives said he requested an attorney.

Brandi Briggs of Huntingtown has lived across the street from Shymanski for about eight years and told FOX 5, the past few weeks have been surreal. Though Shymanski is well known for his photography, often seen at Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market, Briggs said the thing he loved most was being a father.

"His kids were right around the same age as my kids. So, he was always outside with them. So, that’s how we knew him, outside playing with our kids," she said. "You always saw him with his kids always smiling. That was what we remember most about him, just how much he loved being a dad and how much his kids were his world."

Holbrook is being represented by a public defender. 

FOX 5 reached out to the Public Defender’s Office in Calvert County for a comment but we have not heard back yet.

Holbrook is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 20 for a preliminary hearing.