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Convicted murderer a one-time 'person of interest' in Grubbs slaying

A convicted murderer and serial bank robber facing life in prison for the 2012 knifing and dismembering of a roommate in Washington County was a one-time "person of interest" in the 2011 David Grubbs' murder in Ashland, police said.

Christian Delaurentiis' ties to Southern Oregon and history of knife violence put the 32-year-old former Ashland resident on investigators' radar screen in the Grubbs slaying, but he's never been ruled in or out of the pool of potential suspects, police said Thursday.

"We looked at a lot of people like that because of similar crimes, probably more than a dozen," Ashland police Chief Terry Holderness said. "He never rose to the level of suspect, and we were never able to clearly say he didn't do it.

"There's been no change in his status for a year and a half," Holderness said. "That doesn't mean that can't change. I can say that about five or six people."

Delaurentiis was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday on his guilty plea to aggravated murder and faces a minimum of 41 years in prison, court records show. However, that sentencing was pushed back to March 18 while he awaits sentencing on federal charges for taking part in a string of bank robberies, including one in Medford.

Delaurentiis pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated murder and abuse of a corpse in the May 1, 2012, slaying of Phillip Lindemuth, 43. Court records state that Lindemuth was stabbed to death inside his Aloha home and his body, which had been sawed into many pieces, was found in a freezer in his garage.

Washington County prosecutors earlier said Delaurentiis killed Lindemuth to keep him from exposing his role in the bank robberies, which included a Jan. 8, 2012, robbery of the US Bank inside the Albertsons grocery store at 910 N. Phoenix Road.

In that case, Delaurentiis wore aviator glasses when he walked into the branch that Sunday afternoon and told the teller he would detonate a bomb he previously placed there if he was not given money, according to police reports.

Federal court records show Delaurentiis fled with $1,911 in cash. Police records said investigators never found a bomb.

Lindemuth's murder was less than six months after the 23-year-old Grubbs was found dead and nearly beheaded on the Ashland Central Bike Path less than 30 minutes after he was slain, police said.

An autopsy showed that he was nearly decapitated from a weapon with a medium to large blade, police said.

Investigators said Grubbs, who'd been walking home from his job as a grocery clerk at Shop'n Kart, did not appear to have made any defensive moves in the attack, and his wallet and money were still in his pocket.

Police have meticulously considered hundreds of tips, interviewed nearly 2,000 people and analyzed hundreds of hours of surveillance footage collected from businesses around Ashland.

People interviewed included Delaurentiis, who was "reasonably cooperative" with Ashland detectives in a jailhouse interview following his aggravated murder arrest, Holderness said.

Delaurentiis had family members in the Grants Pass area and gave police a Tolman Creek address during a 2009 arrest on marijuana charges, records show.

During the Grubbs investigation, police have looked at any other murders in the West that included knives, swords or other such weapons, leading them to Delaurantiis, Holderness said.

"He has ties to Southern Oregon and has some propensity to violence," Holderness said. "He is clearly a bad person.

"(But) The idea that he is suddenly a person of interest or a suspect is not accurate," Holderness said.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.