Weapons tested in Grubbs case

Making sure not to overlook anything or anyone, Ashland police are on their second lap of interviews in the Grubbs murder investigation, and could begin receiving evidence back from the Oregon State Police crime laboratory by the end of next week.

Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness said that evidence includes everything police collected from the scene of the crime and DNA swabs taken from several bladed weapons that detectives encountered while interviewing people during the investigation.

"For the most part, they just gave them to us voluntarily," he said of the people who owned the swabbed weapons. "We did it just to make sure "… and so we could cross people off our list."

Holderness said the results of a second autopsy completed by Steven Symes, a forensic anthropologist based in Erie, Pa., and Jene McLoughlin, a forensic expert at University of Oregon, likely won't be available until the end of the month.

Symes, who is examining the evidence collected during the autopsy at his laboratory in Pennsylvania, said he hopes to identify the weapon used in the murder of 23-year-old David Michael Grubbs on the Central Ashland Bike Path on Nov. 19.

There are still eight investigators working full time on the case, said Holderness, although the amount of leads police are able to chase has dropped off significantly.

"We're just going back and re-interviewing a bunch of people that he knew well and worked with," he said.

He said police are running a dual track investigation: One group of detectives is following up on leads and a second is concentrating on finding any sort of relationship between Grubbs and his killer.

Holderness said crimes with any similarities to the Grubbs murder throughout Oregon and the nation are also being followed up on.

"Anybody who is arrested waving a sword or machete around is obviously going to be flashing on our radar," he said. "We look into those incidents immediately after other agencies alert us."

Holderness said police are still seeking a person who was riding a bicycle on the bike path in the area of the Mountain View Cemetery around 5 p.m. and another person who was in the same area at about 5:15 p.m.

These people are not considered to be suspects, Holderness said, but potential witnesses.

A reward fund set up for anyone who can provide information that leads to an arrest in the Grubbs homicide case has reached $1,575, said Ruthie Cox of the Medford police.

Anyone who wants to contribute to the fund can mail a check to the Medford Police Department, 411 W. Eighth St., with attention to Ruth Cox.

Checks can be made payable to "Crime Stoppers of Southern Oregon for Grubbs reward."

Grubbs was found murdered near the Hunter Park tennis courts at about 5:35 p.m. Nov. 19.

An initial autopsy showed that he was nearly decapitated from a weapon with a medium to large blade, police said.

Investigators said Grubbs didn't appear to make any defensive moves in the attack, and that his wallet and money were left in his pocket after he was killed.

Evidence points toward the attack being random, because police are not finding any reason for Grubbs to have been targeted, said Holderness.

Detectives would like to talk with anyone who was on the bike path between Wightman Street and the Clay Street overpass between 4 and 6 p.m. Nov. 19. Those who used that stretch of path at that time or know someone who did are asked to contact the Ashland Police Department at 541-482-5211 or leave an anonymous message on the tip line at 541-552-2333.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.

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