Racist Couple Could Face Death in West Coast Murder Spree

An Oregon couple linked to four murders in three states will have to wait until April to learn if prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

David “Joey” Pedersen, 31, and his girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, 24, are charged with aggravated murder in the shooting death of Pedersen’s father, “Red” Pedersen, and the cutting death of his stepmother, Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen, in Everett, Wash., on Sept. 26.

After the killings, Pedersen and Grigsby drove south to the Oregon coast, where they allegedly encountered Cody Myers, a 19-year-old college student who had talked of becoming a minister. The teen’s body — shot in the head and chest — was discovered on Oct. 4. Detectives said Grigsby told them the Oregon resident was “killed because his last name made them think he was Jewish.” She also allegedly said she and Pedersen “were on their way to Sacramento to kill more Jews.”

Their spree ended on Oct. 5, when police arrested them while driving Myers’ stolen car in Marysville, Calif. The next day, Pedersen — who has the letters “SWP” (an acronym for “Supreme White Power”) tattooed prominently on his neck — admitted to yet a fourth murder, the shooting death of a black man named Reginald Clark in Eureka, Calif., police said.

Three days later, Pedersen told a reporter that he alone was responsible for the crimes.

At least one court document casts doubt on that version of events. “[T]he day the couple were booked into jail a note was found written by Pedersen, sent to Grigsby,” it says. “In it he appears to lay out a plan whereby he will take all the blame for everything.”

Both the suspects have police records. Grigsby has five prior felony convictions in Oregon — three for identity theft and two for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Pedersen has four prior felony convictions — two for robbery, one for assault, and one for threatening a federal judge.

Holly Grigsby and David Pedersen
Fatal attraction: Holly Grigsby exchanges glances with her boyfriend, David "Joey" Pedersen in a California court appearance. The pair are accused of a Bonnie-and-Clyde murder spree in three states, and allegedly were heading to Sacramento "to kill more Jews" when they were apprehended.

Pederson’s connections with white supremacists aren’t fully known, but there is speculation he may have developed racist views while in prison in Colorado and Oregon. In 1999, while incarcerated at the Oregon State Correctional Facility, Pedersen was punished for racial, religious, or sexual harassment. In February 2000, he was convicted for threatening to murder a federal judge who handled the “Ruby Ridge” case of white separatist Randy Weaver. Weaver’s wife and son were killed, along with a federal marshal, on an Idaho mountaintop in a 1992 standoff that became a cause célèbre for the radical right.

Pedersen allegedly told authorities he killed his father because the elder Pedersen had sexually abused a daughter — the suspect’s sister — when the two were children. That claim has not been verified. In December, his attorneys successfully petitioned to have their client’s mental health evaluated. A trial for the murders of Pedersen’s parents was set for September 2012.