Four homicide 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. Read Bill Morlin's report for the Southern Poverty Law Center here.
Here's a report from the Associated Press:
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man and his girlfriend have admitted to killing the man's father and stepmother in a 5-day crime spree that authorities said ultimately left four dead across the Pacific Northwest.
David Joseph Pedersen, 31, (pictured) told a California newspaper in a story published Monday that he killed his father and was responsible for the three other killings in Washington, Oregon and California. His 24-year-old girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, separately described to investigators in Washington state how she killed Pedersen's stepmother using two knives.
The crime spree began last month, as Pedersen's father drove the couple to catch a bus in Everett, Wash., according to Grigsby's statements to police. Pedersen shot his father from behind as Grigsby took control of the vehicle, she said. The couple then returned to the father's home, where Grigsby stabbed Pedersen's stepmother with the knives, she told authorities. Leslie Pedersen, called "Dee Dee" by friends and family, was found with a bloody pillow wrapped around her head.
The couple said Pedersen's father, David Jones "Red" Pedersen, was targeted because he allegedly molested his daughter and a niece when they were younger.
Grigsby told authorities the stepmother, Leslie Pedersen, was killed because she didn't do anything about the alleged molestation.
"I felt it was my responsibility to make sure it didn't happen again," the younger Pedersen told The Appeal Democrat in a jailhouse interview. He said Grigsby was involved in the slayings only under duress and shouldn't be held responsible for the deaths.
Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said officers have not yet looked into the molestation allegations but planned to do so. He said evidence collected so far indicates much of Grigsby's story could be plausible.
Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Pederson at the Yuba County Jail were not immediately successful Monday.
The deaths of Pedersen's father and stepmother led the couple to the logging roads of Oregon, where authorities said they dumped the father's Jeep with his body still inside.
While in Oregon, police said they also fatally shot 19-year-old Cody Myers, who had been attending a jazz festival outside the coastal town of Newport. Police said Myers was shot in the head and chest. Pedersen and Grigsby were arrested last week in Myers' car outside Sacramento.
A fourth body, that of a 54-year-old man, was found with a gunshot wound to the head in California on Friday. Police in Eureka linked Reginald Alan Clark's death to the couple, but didn't release details. Clark is pictured at right.
Pedersen and Grigsby have pleaded not guilty to charges of weapons possession and vehicle theft, and their bail was set at $1 million. They are expected in court Tuesday for an extradition hearing. They have not been charged in the killings.
Their appointed attorney, Donald Wahlberg, said he did not know anything about the case beyond what had been reported.
In the days after Leslie Pedersen's body was found, suspicion quickly fell on her stepson and his girlfriend. David Joseph Pedersen has an extensive criminal history, having spent the ages of 16 to 31 behind bars, except for a one-year stretch. His convictions include assaulting a police officer and threatening a federal judge, and other disciplinary infractions included assault, extortion, disobedience, harassment and destruction of property.
Grigsby also spent time in prison beginning in 2006 for a variety of charges, including identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. After completing probation, she served two years for identity theft. Even in prison, she got into trouble for assault and possession of contraband.
Both share an interest in white supremacy ideology, with Pedersen prominently displaying a white supremacy tattoo on his neck. Grigsby's white supremacist leanings were made clear to fellow inmates at Oregon's women's prison.