A white supremacist couple charged with a double murder in Everett and suspected of two other killings in Oregon and California was headed south to “kill more Jews” when arrested last week, officials said Monday.
Police on Monday confirmed that David Joseph “Joey” Pedersen, 31, and his girlfr
iend, Holly Ann Grigsby, 24, are suspects in a killing in Eureka, Calif. The victim, Reginald Alan Clark, 53, was found shot to death in the back seat of his pickup truck late last week.
According to court papers, Grigsby allegedly told a detective she and Pedersen were on their way to Sacramento to “kill more Jews” when they were arrested in Northern California last week.
The suspects have ties to white supremacist groups and lengthy criminal rap sheets. They are accused of killing an Oregon teen because they believed he was Jewish, and taking his car.
Snohomish County prosecutors Monday filed aggravated first-degree murder charges against Pedersen and Grigsby in connection with the killings of an Everett couple.
Officials in Oregon confirmed that a body found late last week in a stolen Jeep is David “Red” Pedersen, 56. Joey Pedersen’s father had been shot while he was in Everett, Sgt. Robert Goetz said. The slain man’s wife, Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen, 69, was found in the couple’s south Everett home Sept. 28. Her throat had been cut.
“As far as we know right now, there are no other victims,” Goetz said.
Prosecutors said the killings were committed during a robbery that included stealing the Jeep and multiple credit and debit cards.
Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said Monday he’d already been in touch with his counterparts in California and Oregon to make certain they were aware of the aggravated murder charges and the no-bail warrants filed here. He also plans to discuss the case with U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. Under federal law, as in both California and Oregon, killings committed as “hate” crimes can bring the death penalty.
The charges filed in Everett also may expose the pair to the death penalty.
Aggravated murder “is the only crime where the death penalty is an available sentencing option in Washington,” Roe said. “First though, we have to know all the facts of the crimes, and something about those accused of them; and these investigations are really still just beginning.”
In other words, prosecutors have some time before they must announce whether they intend to seek the death penalty.
“For the moment though: These defendants are in custody on no bail,” Roe said. “Now is the time to think not about them, but about the people who were killed, and the grieving families and friends left behind.”
Pedersen family members on Monday said they were not ready to comment.
Joey Pedersen reportedly has said the motive for the killings in Everett was revenge on his father, whom he claimed had molested family members.
Everett police emphasized that investigators have not confirmed the molestation claims.
Grigsby allegedly told investigators that she and Pedersen planned how they were going to kill Red Pedersen on Sept. 26.
She told detectives that Joey Pedersen sat behind his father as he drove them to the Everett Transit Station to catch a bus. The son allegedly shot his father from behind while Grigsby took control of the car and brought it safely to a stop.
The young couple then returned to Pedersens’ home at the Mobile Country Club in the 1400 block of 84th Street SE.
Grigsby allegedly described to investigators how she killed DeeDee Pedersen, 69, using two knives. The victim was found by her daughter. The victim’s hands, feet and mouth had been duct-taped and her throat slashed, according to court papers.
The suspects allegedly said DeeDee Pedersen’s killing also was retribution connected to the molestation claims.
“It should be noted that those allegations have not been proven in any way by investigators,” Goetz said.
‘Jewish’ last name
Joey Pedersen recently was released from prison. A family member told police the suspects paid a visit from Oregon so Joey Pedersen could see his dad. Joey Pedersen and Grigsby went to a shooting range with Red Pedersen and fired weapons, three days before the killings began, according to court papers.
Red Pedersen’s 2010 Jeep was found Friday in a remote wooded area of Linn County, Ore., pushed over a cliff. His body was inside. The Jeep was seized as evidence and returned to Everett.
The suspects also are being investigated in connection with the slaying of Cody Myers. Grigsby allegedly told detectives the Oregon teen was killed “because his last name made them think he was Jewish,” according to court papers.
When discussing the 19-year-old’s death, Grigsby allegedly told detectives the couple had planned to go to Sacramento to “kill more Jews.”
Myers’ body was discovered Oct. 4 in the woods in the Marys Peak area, southwest of Corvallis. He’d been shot in the head and chest.
Detectives believe that Myers arrived in Newport, Ore., on Oct. 1 to attend a jazz festival. He likely met Pedersen and Grigsby that day, Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said Monday.
“Right now, it just appears to have been a random encounter,” he said.
Investigators on Friday located the spot where they believe Myers was killed, Hastings said. The crime scene was east of Toledo in the Pioneer Mountain area, about 40 miles from where Myers’ body was found.
Meanwhile, police in Eureka, Calif., are investigating the fourth homicide in which Pedersen and Grigsby are suspects.
Reginald Alan Clark, 53, of Eureka, was found fatally shot in his pickup truck on Friday, Eureka police detective Sgt. Patrick O’Neill said.
One of Clark’s friends spotted the truck, realized he hadn’t seen Clark in a few days and called police, O’Neill said.
The investigation quickly zeroed in on Pedersen and Grigsby as suspects, O’Neill said. They are believed to have met Clark, who is black, by happenstance.
“The motive is still being investigated,” O’Neill said. “We’re kind of keeping our eyes wide open on this one.”
The suspects were arrested Wednesday after a California Highway Patrol officer spotted them driving the Oregon teen’s car north of Sacramento. Officers discovered three loaded guns in the car, including a .22-caliber handgun at Grigsby’s feet.
The suspects are expected in a California court today for extradition hearings.
Pedersen has spent most of his adult life in prison. Among other things, he’s served time in federal lockup for threatening to murder an Idaho judge who oversaw the trial of white supremacist Randy Weaver, who was in a deadly 1992 standoff with federal marshals.
Meanwhile, Pedersen met with a reporter Sunday. In allegedly admitted involvement in the killings.
Pedersen reportedly told the Appeal Democrat newspaper in Marysville, Calif., that his girlfriend only participated under duress.
“She’s been misportrayed,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “Everything that’s been reported I take full responsibility for.”
On the day the couple was arrested, a note written by Pedersen to Grigsby was discovered. In it, he said he would take the blame for everything.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org