Grubbs murder investigation tops $27,000

Ashland police and other agencies have spent at least $27,000 investigating the Nov. 19 murder of 23-year-old David Michael Grubbs and providing extra patrols.

Detectives have followed more than 600 tips, talked to more than 300 people and reviewed hundreds of hours of video surveillance footage during the investigation, Ashland police Chief Terry Holderness said Tuesday. So far no suspect has been named in the murder, which occurred on the Central Ashland Bike Path near the Hunter Park tennis courts.

Holderness estimated his department has spent $7,000 on overtime hours providing extra patrols in Ashland, and another $8,000 on detectives' overtime work.

Bringing in a leading forensics expert, Steven Symes, of Erie, Pa., late Tuesday to help determine the weapon used will cost about $5,000 for the flight and hotel room and more for Symes' work in the lab once he returns home Thursday, Holderness said.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department has spent about $7,000 in overtime hours providing at least two extra deputies to patrol the Bear Creek Greenway and the Central Ashland Bike Path for five hours a day, said Lt. Bob Sergi. That doesn't include the overtime costs of detectives and medical examiners, he said.

Medford police Chief Tim George said he didn't have an estimate for the costs his department have absorbed from its contributions to the investigation. There were as many as five Medford detectives working on the case during the first two weeks, he said, and there still were two from the MPD working the case on Tuesday.

"A lot of it is just getting more boots on the ground to chase stuff down," George said. "There are a lot of things that need to be done by a certain time in an investigation like this."

Each agency foots its own bill under a countywide agreement that goes into effect when the Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit is initiated, as it was in the Grubbs' case, Holderness said.

The agreement allows the Ashland Police Department to draw on the resources of nearly every law enforcement agency in the county, including Oregon State Police, he said.

"Our ability to utilize all of the available resources in the valley has been an essential part of the investigation," he said. "Their help has been critical since the very beginning."

Detectives from the FBI were also used during the investigation, Holderness said, but have been released.

An investigation of this magnitude has stretched the resources of Ashland police, who have had to call on other agencies for help with keeping up with other cases, he said.

"Our regular day-to-day calls are still coming in at the same rate that they always do," Holderness said.

The investigation has also stretched the limits of the department building. An interview room is now filled with equipment to review video surveillance footage. The briefing room is now full of graphs, charts, and maps related to the murder investigation, he said, forcing police to hold their normal briefings in the break room.

"Our station is not the largest, you understand," he said. A $2.11 million station expansion is planned in 2013.

The number of detectives working the Grubbs murder case has dropped to eight from a high of 14 last week, Holderness said.

"The number of leads is going down," he said, "but our detectives are still working the case full time. "… We're going full steam ahead as long as we have leads to follow."

Police on Monday announced they were looking for three people who video surveillance showed had used the bike path around the time of the murder. A female who was on the bike path at about 5 p.m. in the area of the Mountain View Cemetery wearing a pink jacket and walking two dogs was located and was being questioned as a potential witness today, Holderness said.

Police are still seeking a person who was riding a bicycle on the bike path in the area of the cemetery around 5 p.m. and another person who was in the same area at about 5:15 p.m.

George said he is confident that detectives will overturn the right stone sooner or later in the Grubbs investigation.

"They're going to solve this thing," the Medford police chief said. "It's not about luck, it's about hard work. That's how it's going to get solved, by the hard work the Ashland police and other agencies have put in to it.

"They just need to get that break, and I'm confident they will."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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