Body found in Ore. ID'd as that of missing teen

October 5, 2011 - 10:40 PM
NW Couple Crime Spree

--CORRECTS DATELINE TO NEAR YUBA CITY-- Holly Ann Grigsby sits in the back of a California Highway Patrol vehicle following a traffic stop on Marysville Road and Gettys Court near Yuba City, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. Grigsby and her boyfriend Joseph Pedersen are wanted for a murder in Washington state and the disappearance of a teenager in Oregon. (AP Photo/Appeal Democrat, David Bitton)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon teen who crossed paths with a couple sought in the killing of a Washington state woman was found slain in a rural area and the couple — who were arrested on Wednesday — are persons of interest in his death, police said Wednesday night.

State police spokesman Lt. Gregg Hastings said an autopsy has determined the body found late Tuesday is that of 19-year-old Cody Myers.

Myers disappeared last weekend as police were searching for the killers of 69-year-old Leslie Pedersen, who was found at her Everett, Wash. home a week ago with her hands bound and a bloody pillow over her head.

The fugitives — Pedersen's stepson David Pedersen and his girlfriend Holly Ann Grigsby — were arrested Wednesday afternoon on a highway in northern California as they were driving Myers' car.

"A vicious, wild reign of terror has come to an end," Yamhill County Sheriff Ken Summers said at a Wednesday news conference in Salem. "The predators are off the street and we're grateful it's come to a conclusion."

But authorities have not yet found Leslie Pedersen's husband, who went missing at around the time she was murdered.

Hastings said Myers' body was found near Marys Peak in western Oregon, not far from his Lafayette home. Myers vanished while driving to a jazz concert on the Oregon coast. Police declined to say how he was killed or how he may have come into contact with Pedersen and Grigsby.

Investigators said Pedersen and Grigsby had Myers' car Sunday when the woman tried to use a stolen credit card at a Salem, Ore., gasoline station.

They were arrested north of Sacramento after a California Highway Patrol Officer spotted a vehicle alongside the road, with a woman standing near the driver's door, said CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader.

"He inquired if she needed assistance and she replied that she was stretching," Clader said. "He started to pull away and it occurred to him, hey, it matches the description."

Clader said the officer turned around to get the vehicle's license number, and it checked out as Myers'. He called for backup, then followed the vehicle as it drove away slowly for about two miles before turning into a side street and stopping. The pair was arrested without resistance, though officers found "several firearms" in the vehicle, Clader said.

The two were expected to be jailed in Yuba City, but one law enforcement official said it was unknown where they would be taken after that.

Grigsby's father, Fred Grigsby of Portland, said earlier Wednesday that his daughter had been involved with white supremacists, but he was unsure whether Pedersen was as well. Mug shots of Pedersen show a tattoo on his neck reading "SWP," which in prison jargon stands for "Supreme White Power."

Police have not said whether they suspect any connections between the crime spree and white supremacists.

Fred Grigsby also said his daughter had kicked drug habits she developed as a teenager. "She went to treatment. I thought she got her life together," he told The Associated Press.

David Joseph Pedersen's convictions date to 1997, when he was 16 and convicted of robbery in Marion County, Ore., according to public records. He spent nearly six years in prison and was released in January 2003.

Less than a month later, he was arrested on charges that included assaulting a police officer in Eastern Oregon's Umatilla County. He was convicted on one count and spent seven years in prison, four of them at a federal prison in Colorado.

In 2000, while Pedersen was an inmate at the Snake River prison in Ontario, Ore., he sent a letter threatening to kill U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge, according to a federal indictment. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in federal prison and three years of probation. The judge's office declined to comment.

On July 7 this year, Pedersen told his federal probation officer in Portland that he had run out of Zoloft, a medication he was taking to treat depression, according to federal court records. Pedersen agreed to modify his probation documents, adding a requirement that he seek mental health treatment and take medication.

Grigsby spent time in prison for a variety of minor charges beginning in 2006, including identity theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle. After completing probation, she was again sentenced in 2008 on identity theft charges and served two years.

Grigsby's father said his daughter has a 2-year-old son, who is safe with the boy's father.

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Duara reported from Portland, Ore. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Tim Fought and Terrence Petty in Portland, Ore., and Don Thompson in Sacramento; and news researcher Judy Ausuebel in New York.