GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A boyfriend-and-girlfriend duo suspected in a murder spree that left four people dead in three Western states are expected to be returned to Washington state within a month to face charges that could bring the death penalty.
David “Joey” Pedersen and his girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, waived their right to an extradition hearing during a brief court appearance Tuesday in Yuba County, north of Sacramento, where they were arrested last week. The pair, who have expressed white supremacist beliefs, is suspected of killing his father, David “Red” Pedersen, 56, and his wife Leslie, 69, about Sept. 26 in Everett, Wash., and, later, two other people, including a 19-year-old man they believed was Jewish.
The pair was charged Monday in the Pedersens' deaths with aggravated first-degree murder in Snohomish County, Wash. Aggravated first-degree murder is punishable in Washington state only by execution or life in prison without release. Prosecutors have not determined whether to pursue the death penalty.
According to a prosecutor's affidavit in support of those charges, authorities have recovered bloody clothing, a knife and stolen credit cards that they believe the couple dumped in an Oregon trash can while on the run.
Grigsby told police she and her boyfriend were heading to Sacramento, Calif., to “kill more Jews” when they were arrested last week in California, the affidavit said.
If true, that could be a basis for federal hate-crime charges. Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle, confirmed Tuesday that her office had been in touch with counterparts in Snohomish County as well as federal prosecutors in other states to determine where the pair should be prosecuted.
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Neither defendant spoke during Tuesday's hearing, expect briefly to their lawyers, and they rarely made eye contact. Previous weapons and vehicle theft charges were dropped, and the judge ordered them held without bail.
Their appointed attorney, Donald Wahlberg, said he did not know anything about the case beyond what had been reported.
In interviews with a reporter and police, the couple said they killed Pedersen's father because he molested two young relatives and killed his wife because she knew and still supported him.
Grigsby, 24, confessed during a five-hour, videotaped interview with Oregon state police, Snohomish County, Wash., deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson wrote in a probable cause statement.
Grigsby said the couple planned to travel from Oregon to visit Red Pedersen and his wife — and then kill him by shooting him in the back of the head as he was driving them to a bus station.
She said she was in the passenger seat and took the steering wheel after her boyfriend fired a shot to the back of his head. They then drove to the Pedersens' home in Everett.
Grigsby said she herself slit Leslie Pedersen's throat, and they headed south in Red's Jeep with his body inside.
They ditched the car off a steep embankment, and killed Cody Myers, who was on his way to a jazz festival on the Oregon coast, because his name sounded Jewish, according to Matheson's affidavit. Myers was a devout Christian.
When she was arrested, Grigsby said “the couple was on their way to Sacramento to 'kill more Jews,'” Matheson wrote.
Grigsby and Pedersen were arrested outside Yuba City, Calif., when a police officer spotted them in Myers' car. Authorities had been tracking them by use of stolen credit cards and had warned police in several states to be on the lookout for them.
Pedersen, 31, initially refused to talk with police, but on Saturday, he reconsidered.
He admitted murdering a man in Eureka, Calif., on Oct. 3 or 4, the probable cause statement said. The crime matched an open investigation into the death of Reginald Alan Clark, 53, who was found dead with a bullet wound to the head.
Police have not suggested a motive, but Clark is black.
On Sunday, Joey Pedersen, who has spent nearly half his life in prison, summoned a reporter for a California newspaper, the Appeal-Democrat, to the jailhouse for an interview and took “full responsibility” for “everything that's been reported.”
He said he killed his father because he had molested his daughter — Joey's older sister — and an adopted cousin when they were young, and that they had killed his dad's wife because she knew about the molestation but still supported him. He told the paper that his mother, with whom he remained close, informed him of the abuse about four years ago while he was prison. He soon resolved to kill his father, he said.
“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.”
Interviewed at her Salem, Ore., home, Pedersen's mother, Linda, told The Oregonian, “All I have to say is that I love my son. I love him unconditionally.”
Everett police have emphasized that investigators have not confirmed the defendants' allegations.
“If this happened, that was not the man we knew,” one of Leslie Pedersen's daughters, Lori Nemitz, told The Daily Herald of Everett.
Red Pedersen's brother Pete Pedersen, of Oak Harbor, Wash., told the Herald the molestation accusations came out of the blue.
“That would be news to me,” he said.
Nemitz and her sister, Susan Ellis, recalled meeting Joey Pedersen and his girlfriend once during their September visit. Grigsby came across as hard and standoffish, while Joey Pedersen was friendly, called his father “Pops” and seemed to be bonding with him after years apart.
“In hindsight, Joey was just too polite,” Ellis said.
Joey Pedersen also told the California newspaper he expected to be charged with killing the “dead Negro” because “the bullet from my gun is in his head.”
Joey Pedersen has an extensive criminal history, having spent from age 16 to 31 behind bars, except for a one-year stretch. His convictions include assaulting a police officer and threatening a federal judge. He was released from prison in May.
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.
Her mother, Erlene Onofrichuk, told The Oregonian, “She's a good person. I know no one will believe it now.”
And she added, “I am so, so sorry for all the families.”
Jonathan J. Cooper contributed from Portland, Ore., and Sheila V Kumar contributed from Marysville, Calif.