Four murder victims –including an African-American man shot in the head at close-range in Eureka, Calif. – are now being linked to a jailed couple with extensive criminal records and white supremacy beliefs.
It looks like the West Coast crime spree – described by one Oregon sheriff as a “vicious, wild reign of terror” – may have had a racist agenda.
Authorities on Monday said the death of Reginald Alan Clark, 53, who was found shot to death in his pickup last Friday in Eureka, was tied to the killing spree believed carried out by David “Joey” Pedersen, 31, and his girlfriend, Holly Ann Grigsby, 24.
In a weekend newspaper interview, Pedersen confessed to murdering his stepmother, father and a 19-year-old Oregon college student, and he boasted about a fourth killing not reported by law enforcement at that point.
On Monday afternoon, authorities in Washington, Oregon and California confirmed that Pedersen had been linked to the killing of Clark, who authorities confirmed is African-American.
“It was a pretty hateful crime, you can say that,” one law enforcement source said of the death of Clark. An autopsy report said he died from a gunshot wound to the head. Other details about Clark weren’t immediately available.
Two handguns and a rifle were found in a stolen car stopped on Oct. 5 by the California Highway Patrol near Marysville. Pedersen and Grigsby were taken into custody at gunpoint without incident. They remain in jail in Yuba City, Calif., under $1 million bail each.
After their arrests, authorities in Washington, Oregon and California began piecing together what Yamhill County, Ore., Sheriff Ken Summers described as “a vicious, wild reign of terror.”
It began in Everett, Wash., on Sept. 28 with the discovery of the body of Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen, the suspect’s 69-year-old stepmother. She was found brutally murdered in her home, her throat repeatedly slashed, apparently with a sword found nearby, authorities said.
Missing from the home that day was her husband, 56-year-old David
“Red” Pedersen, a disabled ex-Marine. His son and Grigsby had been visiting the elder Pedersens prior to the murder and disappearance. Joey Pedersen recently had been released from prison for threatening to kill a federal judge in Idaho because of his connection with Ruby Ridge and Randy Weaver.
On Friday, David Pedersen’s body was found in his 2010 Jeep, which had careened off a cliff near a remote logging road north of the Yellowbottom Campground, about 30 miles east of Corvallis in Linn County, Ore.
An autopsy confirmed the identity of the victim, who had been shot in the head.
In confessing to that crime during a jail interview with Appeal Democrat reporter Ashley Gebb on Sunday, Joey Pedersen said he shot and killed his father because the elder Pedersen had sexually abused his daughter – the suspect’s sister – when the two were children. That claim has not been confirmed by investigators.
“I felt it was my responsibility to make sure it didn't happen again,” the Marysville newspaper reported Pederson as saying.
In the same interview, Pedersen said Grigsby was under duress and should be absolved of any involvement. “She’s been misportrayed,” he told the California newspaper. “Everything that's been reported I take full responsibility for.”
Pedersen and Grigsby were arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer who spotted a stolen car belonging to 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 in the Marys Peak area in Benton County, Ore., west of Corvallis, Ore., and about 250 miles south of Everett.
On Monday, Lt. Dave Carey of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, said new information suggested Myers was shot in the Pioneer Mountain area of Lincoln County, about three miles east of Toledo, Ore. After the victim was fatally shot, his body was transported about 40 miles to Marys Peak in Benton County, where it was discovered later.
Investigators say they now believe Myers encountered the fleeing white supremacists in Newport, Ore., where he had gone to attend a jazz festival on Oct. 1. They ask that anyone who took video footage or photographs during the festival or saw anyone in the adjoining Don Davis Park to contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.