Police are asking for the public's help in the murder investigation of 23-year-old Ashland resident David Michael Grubbs, whose body was discovered late Saturday afternoon on the Central Ashland Bike Path in southeast Ashland. (Correction: The official name of the bike path has been updated in this story.)
Police were called to the crime scene at 5:35 p.m. Saturday to investigate a "suspicious death" after a person traveling on the popular exercise trail discovered Grubbs' body on the bike path near Hunter Park, adjacent to Walker Elementary School, said Ashland Deputy Police Chief Corey Falls on Sunday.
Grubbs was the victim of a violent crime, and he cautioned the public to be "cautious and vigilant" when using the bike path, Falls said. Because the attack happened close to three schools, including Ashland Middle School and Southern Oregon University, school officials have been notified of the homicide, he added.
"We're doing everything we possibly can to keep the community safe," Falls said, adding extra safety patrols have been put in place.
Initial reports that Grubbs might have been a gunshot victim proved false once investigators were able to examine his body. Grubbs was killed by a "large sharp-edged object," Falls said. "It was a violent crime," he said.
Grubbs lived on California Street, graduated from Ashland High School in 2006 and worked at the local Shop 'n' Kart. Store Manager Vernon Hull said Grubbs walked to and from work on the bike path, and that he had worked at the store since high school.
"He had a great heart," Hull said. "And he loved helping people."
Grubbs also loved music, played guitar, was an excellent employee, and he was also a good friend, Hull said.
"Everybody is shocked," Hull said.
There does not currently appear to be any connection between Grubbs and his assailant, Falls said.
Police continue to try to piece the case together, and are questioning friends and associates of Grubbs. In particular, police would like to speak with two young white males who were seen near the area when the body was found, he added.
"We want to get as much information as we can. It might be information we need," Falls said.
Police are also seeking possible surveillance footage from video cameras belonging to local businesses that might shed some light on the investigation.
"We're just trying to backtrack and figure out what occurred," Falls said.
Police were called out in force Saturday night and officers remained tight-lipped and on the scene throughout the evening as agencies from across the Rogue Valley sent investigators to the area. Falls said once police were able to identify Grubbs as the victim they notified his next of kin.
At around 10:30 p.m. the Oregon State Police major crimes van was parked on the bike path near Walker Elementary School. The entire area from Hunter Park to the school was blocked to traffic as the investigation unfolded. Officers with Talent, Phoenix, Medford police departments and deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department combed the area for hours. By 11 p.m., a large section of the bike path just south of the tennis courts near Hunter Park was roped off to make room for the OSP mobile crime lab.
"We were out there until two or three a.m. And we reconvened at around 7 a.m. Sunday," said Falls. "This will be an ongoing investigation."
The crime scene remained closed late Sunday.
Police are requesting anyone with information to please call 541-482-5211. To leave an anonymous tip, call 541-552-2333.