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Second reward planned in bike path case

A second reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who brutally murdered David Michael Grubbs on the Central Ashland Bike Path Nov. 19 is being established by the 23-year-old's family and Ashland police.

The new reward fund was one of nine suggestions from residents for community responses to the killing.

Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness said the primary concern was that some people weren't making donations to the existing Crime Stoppers reward fund for Grubbs because it wasn't tied to the family and because of uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the fund.

"We're just trying to work out the details," said Holderness. "It should be ready to go in a day or two."

Family members could not be reached for comment.

Holderness said the family is setting up the fund so that if police solve the crime without the help of a tip, the money will be returned to those who donated it.

The Crime Stoppers reward fund has taken in $600 in additional donations from citizens, which was added to its $1,000 base reward.

That $1,600 reward is good for as long as the crime goes unsolved, but if police solve it without the help of a tip, the money is recycled back into the Crime Stoppers account, because police won't accept that money, said Holderness.

Holderness said the family is prepared to make a donation into the new reward fund, and that several people have expressed interest in contributing to such a fund.

How long the new fund will exist if the crime continues to go unsolved is still being considered, Holderness said.

Police are still waiting for the return of evidence submitted to forensic and high-tech crime experts. Grubbs' cellphone contact list and call history were unveiled to police early in the investigation, but that's about all the evidence investigators have to go on so far, Holderness said.

"Really, we haven't gotten much of anything back from any of the labs," he said. "I was hoping we would see something last week, or maybe early this week, but it may take a little more time."

He said the labs are constantly backed up, and evidence that's related to imminent trials usually gets bumped ahead of evidence linked to investigations that are still far from that point.

He said that evidence should start coming in soon.

"But, obviously, we are still working very hard on this case," Holderness said.

Early Tuesday, police gathered all of the objects that community members had placed at the site where Grubbs was killed. Detectives are sifting through the notes, cards and other materials for any clues that might help solve the crime, Holderness said. If police don't find anything, all of the makeshift memorial items will be returned to the family.

"We're still working to find any sort of relationship between the victim and suspect, or some sort of incident that triggered this," said Holderness. "At this point, we haven't been able to identify a suspect, so that's not good news, but we've been able to eliminate a whole lot more people."

Over the past two weeks, police have been re-interviewing everyone on Grubbs' phone contact list, his family, friends and everyone he worked with. Of the 600 people police have interviewed, mostly from canvassing neighborhoods in Ashland, 200 of those interviews have been in-depth.

Holderness said he is hopeful an additional reward fund might help shed light on a suspect.

The additional reward fund is the one idea closest to fruition out of nine submitted by citizens to Ashland Mayor John Stromberg for how the city should respond to the murder. Stromberg asked residents to send him their ideas during a Nov. 29 forum with police.

Stromberg can be reached at 541-552-2104 or john@council.ashland.or.us.

The eight other ideas are: Installing lights on the bike path, installing a memorial bench for Grubbs on the bike path, removing the Parks and Recreation storage shed next to where Grubbs was killed, having police complete a security evaluation of the bike path, holding a community safety seminar with police, holding neighborhood meetings, bolstering the APD volunteer police program and changing the scope of the city's Transportation Commission to include community safety.

"Currently we're having the staff look at the logistical feasibility of all the ideas," Stromberg said.

The Ashland City Council is scheduled to review options for lighting the bike path and installing a memorial bench for Grubbs during a March 2012 study session.

"There are a lot of good ideas, we just need to figure out if there is a place for them," said Larry Patterson, interim city administrator. "Something we're going to have to sort through is which ones will have lasting impacts and which ones only look good on paper."

He said many of the ideas will be considered in January, when the city begins to put together its budget.

"That's when we'll start to know which ones will move forward and which ones will not," he said. "Especially the ones with budgetary concerns."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.