City of Arcata
ARCATA – Arcata Police Department continues an active investigation into the homicide of David Josiah Lawson. Since criminal investigations can take time, the City wants to remind the community that this is an active and open case.
The Police Department is working through a defined investigative strategy based on all the physical evidence and witness statements, much of which has been developed/obtained after the preliminary hearing. “Our current focus is on providing the strongest case possible. In order to do so we must have all the critical evidence processed through the Department of Justice and follow up on any leads generated from the results” stated Police Chief Tom Chapman.
As an update to the investigation the City has finalized an initial review of all the evidence with an outside investigator retired from the FBI. This review resulted in an investigative report and several suggested next steps including additional evidence testing that are underway. Although the Police Department has received a majority of the forensic evidence back from the Department of Justice, it is awaiting the completion of more complex DNA and specialty evidence testing.
A community reward program for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible is now over $40,000, between funds donated to the City and an additional pledges received by the family. Award eligibility requires that the information provided leads directly to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. If more than one person provides identical information, the reward will be equally divided amongst those people.
At this point the investigation has interviewed 46 individuals and believes that all witnesses who could have viewed the fight and events leading up to the homicide have been interviewed. There are still many party attendees who could have knowledge of events earlier in the evening or after the night that could be of value to the investigation and encourages anyone with information, regardless of how minor it may seem, to come forward. The City Council held four community meetings in 2017 to discuss updates on the investigation and overall strategies to improve student safety. After the last meeting in October, students requested that investigation updates be separated from the student safety discussion and that student safety meetings be held on campus. For the months of November and December student safety meetings facilitated by students were held as a trial on campus. The attendance and input from students was very positive. These meetings will continue to be held through the Student Diversity Committee with support from many campus club leaders. Investigation updates will continue to be released through the press as information is available. Any individual or group with questions about the investigation should contact the City Manager’s Office at (707) 822-5953.
“Although it is critical to maintain confidentiality during a criminal investigation, I recognize that the length of time that has passed combined with the investigative privacy is taxing. I appreciate the community’s patience allowing for the thoroughness that this investigation requires and deserves. We will continue to work to bring resolution and justice for David Josiah Lawson and his family”, shares Mayor Sofia Pereira.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Arcata Police Department at (707) 822-2428 during normal business hours, or (707) 822-2424 after hours and on weekends.