By Curran Daly
David Josiah Lawson died in the early morning hours of April 15, after a fight and stabbing at an off-campus party. On May 7, Judge Dale Reinholtsen ordered the release of Kyle Zoellner, a Mckinleyville native detained shortly after Lawson’s death, citing the prosecution’s insufficient amount of evidence to proceed to trial.
Since then Humboldt State students left Humboldt County and four months have passed since Lawson’s death. As students return to the University and the surrounding area, the case is still unsolved and local law enforcement and the Lawson family are still searching for answers.
A vigil to mark four months since Josiah’s death was held in the Arcata Plaza on August 15. At the Vigil, Arcata City Mayor Susan Ornelas fielded questions from community members about the case and the safety of people of color in the community.
During the vigil it was revealed that a retired FBI investigator was to arrive in Arcata on August 16, to assist with the case. The investigator was brought to the city’s attention by the Lawson family’s legal representation and a contract had recently been agreed to between him and the City of Arcata.
Mayor Ornelas also spoke of the role of the Justice Department in the investigation.
“I hate that this is taking so long,” Ornelas said. “The city and I personally contacted the Department of Justice and they can only help us with the forensics of this case.”
Forensic evidence was recently returned to the Arcata Police Department from the United States Department of Justice.
At an Arcata City Council meeting on August 2, Ornelas relayed a message from Arcata Chief of Police, Tom Chapman.
“The investigation is open and ongoing, additional witnesses have recently come forward,” Ornelas said. “We are beginning to recieve forensic testing results from the Department of Justice.”
The City Council recently approved a community reward program for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. The program was announced in a press release on August 1, from the City of Arcata that also confirmed the involvement of an outside agency.
“Chief Chapman also confirmed that an outside agency from a large city that did not want to be named has committed two experienced homicide detectives to the Lawson case,” according to the press release. “’It’s not uncommon for agencies to take a look at an investigation from the outside, and looking at the investigative steps, make a determination if there is something more that can be done,’ said Chapman. ‘That is in process.’”
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Arcata Police Department at (707) 822-2428. The Lumberjack will continue to stay up-to-date on the progress of the investigation into David Josiah Lawson’s death.