An Oregon ex-convict and his girlfriend with suspected ties to white supremacist groups were jailed Thursday in connection with a multi-state crime spree that began in Snohomish County and left two people dead and one missing.
Officers along the West Coast had been hunting David Joseph Pedersen and Holly Ann Grigsby for a week. The pair are suspects in the slaying of Leslie Pedersen, 69. The Everett woman was fatally stabbed.
Her husband and the male suspect’s father, David “Red” Pedersen, remains missing. The captured fugitives are suspected in the man’s disappearance, police wrote in search warrants filed Thursday.
Oregon officials on Thursday also confirmed that the two are suspects in the killing of an Oregon teenager who was reported missing Sunday.
An autopsy concluded that Cody Myers, 19, was fatally shot, according to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office. Myers, of Lafayette, Ore., was shot in the head and chest. Investigators declined to say how many times. The teen never returned home from a trip to Newport, Ore.
Pedersen, 31, and Grigsby, 24, were driving Myers’ car when they were stopped Wednesday by California Highway Patrol officers north of Sacramento. Police found three loaded guns in the car, including a handgun at Grigsby’s feet.
Court records and family statements show the two suspects claim ties to white supremacy groups. Pedersen has a history of violent crime and served time in federal prison for threatening to murder the judge who presided over the trial of Randy Weaver.
Weaver was an Idaho white supremacist whose 1992 standoff with federal marshals ended in the deaths of his wife, his son and a U.S. marshal. Weaver’s case remains a flash point for antigovernment groups and white supremacists.
Pedersen and Grigsby were being held Thursday at the Yuba County Jail in California. Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath said they will be arraigned Friday on weapons and car-theft charges in California, followed by fugitive complaints from Washington and Oregon.
Pedersen and Grigsby then will be given the option to waive or fight their extradition.
Everett police have probable cause to arrest the two for the death of Leslie Pedersen.
Her husband, Red Pedersen, hasn’t been heard from or seen since Sept. 26. Witnesses told police that the suspects had visited the Pedersens at their Everett mobile home the weekend before Leslie Pedersen’s body was discovered.
Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said Thursday afternoon that detectives continue to search for Red Pedersen and his Jeep. Investigators believe the Jeep was driven to Oregon and abandoned there.
“We’re following leads we have as a result of our investigation,” Goetz said. “Most of the focus is down in Oregon.”
Snohomish County prosecutors are in touch with Everett detectives, Snohomish County chief criminal deputy prosecutor Joan Cavagnaro said.
“We haven’t heard plans to bring them to Washington yet,” she said.
More search warrants were filed Thursday afternoon in Snohomish County Superior Court. The warrants detail how investigators had been tracking activity on Leslie Pedersen’s stolen credit cards. The cards were used at bank machines and small stores and gas stations. Police obtained video from these businesses and saw the suspects using the stolen bank and credit cards, police wrote. Red Pedersen was not observed in any of the videos, according to the search warrant.
A Corvallis, Ore., parks employee on Sept. 29 found a backpack in a garbage can in Central Park. Inside were four cards that belonged to Leslie and Red Pedersen. Corvallis Police weren’t aware of the Everett homicide until Tuesday when they received a police bulletin.
Grigsby is suspected of trying to use Leslie Pedersen’s Sears MasterCard Sunday to pay for gas and groceries at Peterson’s Petroleum in Salem, Ore. The clerk became suspicious because the woman spent a long time in the store, police wrote. The clerk asked to see the woman’s identification. The woman fled the store and left behind Pedersen’s credit car. The clerk took down the license plate of the car, unaware that the Plymouth belonged to an Oregon teenager who was reported missing that same day.
Police with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office took a report of the incident. That information eventually connected the suspects to Myers’ disappearance. The teen’s body was discovered Tuesday evening.
The male suspect, David “Joey” Pedersen, spent most of the past 14 years in prison, records show. As a teenager, he began a six-year stint in Oregon for robbery.
While in prison in Oregon in February 2000, Pedersen sent U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge a letter threatening to kill the judge once he got out. Investigators believed multiple other inmates were involved in the threats.
Dave Meyer, who now runs judicial security for the U.S. Marshals Service District of Idaho, worked the case alongside FBI Agent Mary Martin, he said. Meyer declined to describe the contents of Pedersens’ letter, but he did say that it clearly referenced the Weaver case.
“Basically, his connection to Judge Lodge was that Mr. Pedersen claimed to be part of an Aryan organization, and Judge Lodge was the judge in Randy Weaver’s case, and that’s what he claimed the connection was,” Meyer said Thursday.
Pedersen pleaded guilty in October 2001 to threatening to assault and murder a federal judge and to mailing threatening communication. He was sentenced to two years.
He also was ordered to have no contact with past or present members of the white supremacist Aryan Death Squad gang or any other organized gang.
In December of 2007, Pedersen was returned to prison in Oregon. He remained locked up there until May 24 of this year, Oregon corrections spokeswoman Tonya Sly said.
Pedersen’s Oregon state prison records show that, over the years, he racked up nearly 70 disciplinary infractions. Many of those offenses were for assault, destruction of property, disobedience and harassment based on race, religion or sex.
In recent photos, Pedersen sports an array of “white power”-themed tattoos, including “SWP” emblazoned across his throat. SWP often stands for “Supreme White Power” among hate groups.
He also is a mixed martial arts fighter who has been defeated in each of his three professional bouts.
Grigsby has a criminal record of her own.
She served time in state prison for multiple identity-theft convictions. Her prison misbehavior included assaults and disobeying orders.
Grigsby’s father, Fred Grigsby, told the Associated Press that his daughter has a history of drug problems and had been involved with white supremacists.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org