The U.S. Department of Justice has taken over the prosecutions of an Oregon white supremacist couple accused in last fall's three-state crime spree, alleging their crimes — including two slayings in Everett — were aimed at promoting and funding a movement to "purify" and "preserve the white race" through killings.
The U.S. Department of Justice has taken over the prosecutions of an Oregon white-supremacist couple accused in last fall’s three-state crime spree, alleging their crimes — including the slayings of an Everett couple — were aimed at promoting and funding a movement to “purify” and “preserve the white race” through murder.
A 24-page, 15-count indictment unsealed in Portland on Friday names David Joseph “Joey” Pedersen, 32; Holly Ann Grigsby, 25; “and others” in a conspiracy that included researching and gathering the names of prominent Jewish leaders and organizations in Seattle, Portland and Sacramento, Calif., to identify potential targets for elimination.
It claims that Pedersen, when he was arrested with Grigsby in Yuba City, Calif., driving the car of one of their four alleged victims, had prepared a “press release” to alert the media to the killings and their purpose. According to the indictment, Pedersen had already identified his first “Zionist” target and had obtained the gun he intended to use to commit the crime, although it does not name the alleged target.
Prosecutors allege Pedersen and Grigsby funded their white-power movement with credit cards stolen from their victims, and used their stolen cars to travel from one state to another.
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In Snohomish County, the pair is accused of killing Pedersen’s father, David “Red” Pedersen, and stepmother, Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen, on Sept. 26 in Everett. They’re also accused of killing two men in Oregon and California in the following week.
Grigsby told police they shot the Oregon man “because his last name made them think he was Jewish,” according to charging documents. The California victim was black.
After their arrests, Grigsby and Pedersen expressed white-supremacist beliefs in media interviews. According to court documents, Pedersen has a tattoo of a swastika on his chest above his heart and an image of Adolf Hitler on his stomach. The initials “SWP,” for Supreme White Power, are tattooed on his neck.
The indictment exposes Pedersen and Grigsby to a possible federal death penalty — a decision that will be made by Attorney General Eric Holder, according to a news release from the Portland U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Pedersen is already serving life without parole at the Monroe Correctional Complex after pleading guilty to the slayings of his father and his stepmother. Grigsby is facing trial for the homicides in Snohomish County Superior Court.
However, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said Friday he will dismiss the state charges against Grigsby now that the federal indictment has been issued.
Roe had already said publicly he would not seek the death penalty against Pedersen or Grigsby.
Roe said consolidating the cases under a federal racketeering and organized-crime conspiracy prosecution will prove “much more humane for everyone involved, and far more efficient” than a piecemeal approach, with each state taking its turn.
“A three-state prosecution up and down the West Coast could take a decade or more,” Roe said. “I can’t imagine a series of more agonizing road trips for everyone involved.”
Grigsby’s attorney, Peter Mazzone, said Snohomish County prosecutors had already decided not to seek the death penalty against his client, and he hopes for a similar conclusion from federal prosecutors.
Grigsby is set to appear before a U.S. magistrate in Seattle on Monday. Pedersen’s federal arraignment has not been scheduled.
Roe said the federal government will be able to present far more evidence under its theory of the case, which alleges conspiracy, racketeering and crimes under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), claiming the couple were involved in a criminal enterprise aimed at furthering their white-supremacist beliefs.
For example, Roe said, he would likely not be allowed to present a jury with evidence of the other two slayings in which Pedersen and Grigsby are accused, in Oregon and California, because they occurred after the killings in Everett.
Both Grigsby and Pedersen also face a series of firearms-related counts, including using a gun in a crime of violence that resulted in a death, that carry stiff mandatory-minimum penalties in the federal system.
In media interviews, Pedersen claimed he killed his father because he had sexually abused Pedersen and his sister.
Prosecutors say he was also involved in the slaying of 69-year-old Dee Dee Pedersen. She was duct-taped, and her throat was cut. According to the indictment, Grigsby committed that killing “consistent with her beliefs and code that a man should not kill a woman.”
After the slayings of Pedersen’s father and stepmother, the couple allegedly stole their vehicle and drove to Oregon, where they confronted 19-year-old Cody Faye Myers, of Lafayette., Ore., on Oct. 1. He was later found shot to death.
In Eureka, Calif., the couple is accused of the slaying two days later of Reginald Alan Clark, 53, an African-American man found shot to death in the back of his truck.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press is included in this report.