A suspect has yet to be named in the violent murder of 23-year-old David Michael Grubbs, but investigators chasing hundreds of leads since he was found dead Nov. 19 on the Central Ashland Bike Path are narrowing down the possibilities.
Police Monday received more than 50 tips about the case from the community, and over the weekend were able to identify the two young white males who were seen near the area where the body was found on the night of the attack.
"We have identified and contacted both of those males," said Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness. "Neither one of them were involved, so we've gotten past that."
When: 6:30 p.m. today, Nov. 29
Where: Ashland High School gymnasium, 201 S. Mountain Ave.
Later Monday, police identified another person who was likely at the scene of the crime "very shortly" before the attack took place, Holderness said.
That person was sought after police saw him leaving the Shop'n Kart on video surveillance, and again on an unnamed surveillance camera along the bike path.
That person was still being questioned about the incident late Monday.
"We're continuing to get things that are worth sending significant investigative resources to look at," Holderness said. "We've eliminated a lot of people, but we don't have any targeted suspects at this time."
Holderness said police are expanding the scope of their investigation, now gathering surveillance footage from businesses farther from the incident, and going over the scene of the crime with a fine-tooth comb.
Since the weekend, investigators have been cutting down thickets of blackberry bushes near where Grubbs' body was found, and scouring the area. Police Monday pulled out a white skateboard or bicycle helmet, with two crossed, black hammers hand-painted on the front of it, and a worn red-bottomed skateboard with dark wheels.
Both items were close to where Grubbs was attacked, said Holderness.
"We don't know if it was related, or if it might belong to someone that was involved in the situation," said Holderness. "We would certainly like to eliminate it as belonging to our suspect."
Police are asking the owner or owners of the items to step forward and claim them.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing and police continue to request public help. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Ashland police at 541-482-5211 or leave a tip at 541-552-2333.
Grubbs was found murdered on the bike path near the Hunter Park tennis courts at about 5:35 p.m. Nov. 19. An autopsy showed that he was nearly decapitated from a weapon with a medium to large blade, police said.
Grubbs did not appear to have been robbed, police said.
At this point in the investigation, police believe the attack may have been random.
"Very rarely do you have a totally random case; in this particular incident we just don't know," said Holderness. "There is still a possibility, probably growing more significant every day, that it was a random event, because we're continuing to look into the background of our victim. "… We're not finding any reason at this point for this to be a targeted act."
Holderness said police have talked to everyone Grubbs worked with at the Ashland Shop'n Kart, all of his known friends, and everyone on his cell phone list.
"We're continuing to work on an enormous amount of leads," Holderness said. "We're getting closer."
The Ashland Police Department is giving community members a chance to discuss with officers the investigation into the homicide of David Michael Grubbs at a 6:30 p.m. forum today in the Ashland High School gymnasium.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email email@example.com.