HSU mum on donations for Lawson case

Paul Mann
Mad River Union

ARCATA – The Humboldt State University administration declines to say if it is taking part in marshaling donations solicited by the family of slain sophomore David Josiah Lawson.

While Arcata Police investigators continue to interview witnesses, including new ones, in the unsolved homicide case, Vice President Craig Wruck, chief of the Humboldt Loyalty Program and private donations and bequests, relayed a “no comment” last week via a press aide in response to a Union inquiry.

The campus Quadrangle was the venue of a press conference May 18 where Lawson’s mother, Charmaine Michelle Lawson, accompanied by relatives, offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her son’s unknown killer.        

She solicited donations on Facebook and a Gofundme page and HSU President Lisa Rossbacher met with her briefly afterward.

Spokesman Jarad Petroske said in a telephone interview Friday that the Rossbacher administration had made the campus community aware of the donations request, but had not encouraged either institutional or personal contributions.

There was no explanation of why Wruck refused to comment on Lawson’s appeal for financial help in tracking down her son’s killer. Her younger son Anthony is reportedly headed to college. There is no word on whether he intends to follow in his brother’s footsteps and attend Humboldt State.

The investigation of Josiah Lawson’s knife slaying is in its second month and Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said in telephone and in-person interviews Friday that his department has received no phone calls to date in the wake of the $10,000 reward. He declined to comment on whether walk-ins had visited police headquarters since the award was announced.

More witnesses are being interviewed, some who were at the Spear Avenue house party and some who were not. Lawson was stabbed twice in the torso in the early morning hours of April 15, Easter weekend.

Partygoers were said to have numbered 50 to 100 and police allowed most of them to leave the crime scene when Lawson was rushed to Mad River Community Hospital.

Chapman voiced hope the reward might still produce fresh leads as the investigation continues.   A judge dropped murder charges against a McKinleyville man, Kyle Zoellner, because a knife found at the scene could not be linked to him, although he admitted he had been in a fight with Lawson minutes before the stabbing. Judge Dale Reinholtsen urged further investigation, as did District Attorney Maggie Fleming. Witnesses at Zoellner’s preliminary hearing in early May gave conflicting accounts of what happened and no one claimed to have seen the stabbing or a knife.

Police confiscated a 10-inch knife of unknown origin or ownership from underneath a car at the crime scene in a Spear Avenue cul-de-sac, where multiple homes and residents are situated.




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