Pair can face trial in Washington in three-state killing rampage
Three states, four bodies, and a chilling admission that the white supremacist couple was on the road to California to "kill more Jews."
David Joseph Pedersen, 31, and his 24-year-old girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, appeared in Yuba County Superior Court in Marysville, Calif., on Tuesday to face charges that they murdered Pedersen's father and his wife in Washington state, a confrontation authorities believe was only the beginning of a violent road trip that ended with two more dead in Oregon and California.
The two waived extradition Tuesday, clearing the way for authorities in Washington to try them on charges of aggravated murder in the first degree in connection with the deaths of the David "Red" Pedersen and his wife, Leslie Pedersen, 69, in Everett, Wash.
Prosecutors allege, based on police interviews with the couple and family members, that Pedersen and Grigsby paid a visit to the elder Pedersens, with whom they had had little or no contact over the years, planning from the beginning to kill them because of Pedersen's belief that his father had, years before, molested his sister.
"The plan that they set out was that they were going to allegedly kill Red as he drove them to the Everett station to catch a bus," Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said at a news conference.
"Suspect Pedersen, or 'Joey' as he's called, would sit in the back seat, Holly would sit in the front seat, and as they were driving, Joey would shoot Mr. Pedersen from the back seat. Holly would then take control of the vehicle, slow it down and they'd be on their way. That is in effect what happened," he said.
The elder Pedersen's wife was found stabbed to death in her home, her hands, feet and mouth bound with duct tape and her throat slashed. Grigsby told police it was she who had bound the woman and used two knives to slash her throat, according to the affidavit.
"They killed Leslie for what Holly said was her knowledge of the molestation, and her failure to do anything about it," Lt. Gregg Hastings, spokesman for the Oregon State Police, told reporters after his officers interviewed Grigsby.
Red Pedersen's body wasn't found right away because the couple left it in his Jeep Patriot and drove with it down to Oregon, where the vehicle was pushed off a gravel road down a steep embankment in Linn County, police say.
Meanwhile, authorities in Corvallis, Ore., on Sept. 29, a day after Leslie Pedersen's body was discovered, recovered a backpack from a garbage can at a park that contained four credit cards belonging to the elder Pedersens, along with bloody clothing and a knife.
Two days later, police believe, the couple met a young Oregon man, Cody Myers, 19, who was on his way to a jazz festival in Newport, Ore., but never returned home. Though Myers was Christian, Grigsby told police that the couple, who have a history of sympathy to white supremacist ideology, decided to kill him because his name sounded Jewish.
"Grigsby also reportedly commented that when arrested, the couple were on their way to Sacramento to 'kill more Jews,' " the court affidavit said.
Myers' body was discovered Oct. 5 in a wooded area southwest of Corvallis, shot several times. It was his 1999 Plymouth the couple was driving the same day near Yuba City, Calif., when a Highway Patrol officer, who had been alerted to the missing car, called for backup and made the arrest.
Not long after, the pair was implicated in a fourth slaying: Pedersen told police he had killed a man on Oct. 3 or 4 in Eureka, Calif., authorities said in court papers. That admission has since been linked to the death of an African American man, Reginald Clark, 53, who was found dead in that area with a gunshot wound to the head.
Pedersen confessed to all four killings in a jailhouse interview with the Appeal-Democrat in Marysville, Calif., confirming that he killed his father after learning that, years before, he had purportedly molested his own daughter, Pedersen's older sister, and another family member. Police have said they have no knowledge that this is true.
"I felt it was my responsibility to make sure it didn't happen again," Pedersen told the newspaper. "I'm not glad he's dead. I don't get joy from it. But I do get satisfaction," he said. "He didn't deserve to be walking around anymore."
He said it was also likely that he'd be charged with the murder of "a dead Negro" in Eureka, Calif., "in that the bullet from my gun is in his head."
Goetz told The Times that authorities in Everett, Wash., are trying to decide how to proceed with the case. The Snohomish County prosecutor's office filed the murder charges this week, which could lead to the death penalty.
"There's still a lot of forensic evidence that we have to collect, to include processing the vehicle, the Jeep Patriot that was recovered over the weekend," Goetz said. "It's been pretty crazy for our investigators over this past 10 days to two weeks. They’ve been here, they've been in Oregon, they've been in California. Today is their first day to really catch up and see where they're going to go from here."
--Kim Murphy in Seattle
Photo: David Joseph Pedersen and Holly Grisby. Credit: Everett Police Department