A California man wanted by Ashland police for allegedly threatening officers with pruning shears last summer has been ruled out as a suspect in the David Grubbs murder, Chief Terry Holderness said Monday.
Holderness said investigators believe Michael Mollo, 43, of Fullerton, Calif., was in Yreka on Nov. 19, the day Grubbs was murdered on the Central Ashland Bike Path.
A decorative sword belonging to Mollo, found when he was arrested by Yreka police Thursday, is not related to the murder, Holderness added.
"I'm so relieved," said Mollo's mother, Sandi Mollo, of Pendleton. "I knew in my heart that he could never do something like that to another person."
Mollo was wanted on charges he threatened Ashland police with pruning shears on Aug. 3 and broke into a house to escape capture. Holderness said Mollo's name came up during the investigation and that police are following all leads.
So far, police have not named a suspect in Grubbs' murder. Holderness said investigators are looking for three people they've determined through surveillance videos were on the bike path between Hunter Park and the Clay Street overpass just before Grubbs' body was discovered by a passerby at about 5:35 p.m.
"We want to talk with a few people who we think may have been in the area," said Holderness. "These are not suspects. "… They might have some information that could be useful to us."
Police describe the three people as:
Detectives also 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 knew 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.
Holderness said investigators have collected and reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance footage from businesses that lie within a several-block radius of where Grubbs' body was found near the tennis courts at Hunter Park.
Footage was obtained from as far away as a gas station near Exit 14 off Interstate 5, he said.
"We've collected just about everything, if not everything, by now," Holderness said. "We prioritized the footage that was closest in both time and distance to the incident."
So, far, police haven't found anything substantial through the footage, Holderness said.
"But we have found certain things we can work, and we've identified people that have not come forward "… in addition to the three (possible witnesses)," Holderness said.
He said investigators have about 20 hours of surveillance footage left to review.
Steven Symes, a forensic anthropologist based in Erie, Pa., and one of the nation's leading forensic specialists of sharp-force trauma wounds, will arrive in Ashland late today to examine Grubbs' body. Symes will complete his examine Wednesday, he said, and likely will extract bone and flesh and take castings of the wounds before he flies back Thursday to his lab in Erie, where he will examine what he finds under a microscope. He hopes to determine what weapon was used to kill Grubbs, and possibly the position of Grubbs to his attacker or attackers.
Symes said he couldn't give an estimated timeline for when he will complete the examination.
"Our investigators still have plenty of work to do on this case," Holderness said, "and we're still looking at people."
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.