‘Reckless Statements’ Were Made by Tom Parker, and Lawson Attorney, Shelley Mack, Writes Uncle of Kyle Zoellner in Letter to the Editor

David lawson and Kyle Zoellner

David Josiah Lawson and Kyle Zoellner

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Letter to the Editor

First and foremost, before I present a narrative that I hope will be processed by all who truly want justice for Josiah, I need the Lawson family, especially Charmaine to truly understand that the Zoellner family has and continues to have complete empathy for all of the Lawson family. I believe that Charmaine has every right to continue to fight for justice for her son and I have incredible respect for her strength and determination to make sure justice prevails in the loss of her son.

As the racial sensitivity regarding this case is extreme and because I am fully aware of this, I need to share a little bit of my background so hopefully my motives for writing this do not get cast into the racial debate. I have worked in the inner city (Oakland and San Francisco) for many years as a volunteer counselor. I have worked with many men of all ages (African American, Hispanic, Asian and White) that are homeless and are consumed with unhealthy addictions. I do understand the inner city; the issues and struggles that take place every day. It is something most people will never understand, many of the kids that grow up in the inner city never get a chance to accomplish so many things that most of us take for granted. It is sad and it breaks my heart.Recently the police chief of APD (Tom Chapman) resigned and the private investigator (Tom Parker) who was hired by the City of Arcata to help the APD on this case also resigned.

When Tom Parker resigned he purposely made some reckless statements to rile up the community of Arcata so he could get support to continue his self- serving mission. Along with his comments, local attorney Shelley Mack in support of Tom Parker also made the same type of reckless statements.

Parker stated he believes that when the department had the initial suspect, Kyle Zoellner, in custody, they were holding the right suspect. He specifically stated that “The arrest that they made the night of the homicide was based on substantial probable cause,”[and] “There is no other explanation for any other perpetrator.

Shellie Mack stated that Lawson’s death wasn’t a “whodunnit” but the result of an altercation where one person walks away, the other person dies of multiple stab wounds.”

These statements are clearly stating without stating it directly, that they believe my nephew (Kyle Zoellner) was the person who stabbed and killed Josiah Lawson.

However, there is a question everyone who is concerned about this case should be asking themselves right now, if the above statements are true why has the evidence and eye witnesses contradicted the above opinions? If the above was true and it was as simple as Kyle getting into a fight with Josiah and then stabbing him, this case would have been settled in a week and Kyle would be in jail,(Keep in mind there was no lack of eye witnesses and there was no lack of evidence regarding this case) yet as of today the APD cannot provide any evidence that Kyle stabbed Josiah except their opinion that is no other “explanation”.

The problem was and still is, contrary to Tom Parker’s view, there is another explanation and this explanation is supported by the actual evidence and eye witnesses. This explanation is that Kyle did not stab Josiah. Think about it again, if Kyle did not stab Josiah then it is obvious that the APD and Tom Parker would end up at a dead end like they have. It is my view that it is no coincidence that the case blew up last week because the investigation is at the same place where it was at the preliminary hearing; Kyle is the only suspect yet there is no evidence to support that Kyle stabbed Josiah.

Facts from case that support that there is another “explanation”:

1) No witnesses saw Kyle with a knife. Contrary to Shelley Mack’s version, Kyle and Josiah did not meet in an alley alone where there could be no other explanation regarding who stabbed Josiah. However, the truth is that there were numerous people involved in more than one altercation at the time Josiah was stabbed. There were many eye witnesses (most friends of Josiah) that stated they witnessed Kyle being beaten by numerous men until he was knocked unconscious and none of the eye witnesses testified that they ever saw Kyle with a knife. This was a 10 inch knife and it would be almost impossible not to see. (Friends of Josiah also testified that Kyle was cordial and nice when he approached them, yet they still assaulted him and beat him unconscious.

2) The murder weapon (Knife) had only one distinguishable finger print on it and the knife was sent to the lab for testing. The finger print did not match Kyle’s nor did any of the fibers match Kyle’s clothes. (From the hearing: “attorneys agreed to stipulate today that the one distinguishable fingerprint on the knife was not Zoellner’s. Fibers found on the knife did not match fibers from Zoellner’s clothing”)

Based on the above known facts I would question anybody that would make a blanket statement that there could be no other “explanation” than Kyle stabbing Josiah as the above evidence clearly contradicts this view.

In regard to fact #1 (that there was no eye witnesses that saw Kyle with the 10 inch knife); I question still today why the most credible witness that went up to the police after the stabbing was not called to testify. At the hearing officer McKenzie testified that after Lawson was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and everyone was leaving the party, he was approached by Angelica McFarland, a friend of Zoellner’s girlfriend who went to the party with the Ortega and Wilkins. According to Officer McKenzie’s testimony, Mcfarland said she wanted to tell the officer something. “She informed me that it was not Kyle [Zoellner], and that Kyle never had a knife,” the officer said.

I find it odd that the DA called all the other girls to testify but not the one girl that witnessed Kyle’s beating, sprayed mace at the attackers to try to protect Kyle, and then had the awareness to tell the police that Kyle did not stab Josiah. I cannot believe that under the circumstances, she would lie about this immediately after the stabbing especially when she was really not even a friend of Kyle’s. Making a statement like this, if it turned out to be a false statement, would bring serious legal consequences to her.

I also know firsthand that Angelica came over with her mom to Kyle’s father’s house that same morning to share what she witnessed, that Kyle did not stab Josiah. Again, not knowing Kyle very well I believe that the only reason she would do this is because she knew the truth about what happened and wanted to do what was right.

So why was Angelica not called to testify at the hearing by the DA, was it because she was the most credible eye witness that would testify that Kyle did not stab Josiah?

Everyone involved in this case that truly wants justice must see that there is another “explanation” based on the evidence, this explanation is that Kyle did not stab Josiah. I know it will be hard for many to actually believe that there was someone else besides Kyle that stabbed Josiah but again, if Kyle did stab Josiah, this case would have been over in a week.

If we take a second and ask ourselves how this case can be solved, the clear answer is there must be parallel investigations that look at other potential suspects. However, a parallel investigation will be met with the racial head wind that is present in the City of Arcata. Could the police actually start a new investigation to look into other suspects without a racial backlash? After what I have seen I believe that an honest parallel investigation would be unfortunately turned into a racial issue and all motives would be challenged. This is a sad reality because deep down inside everyone really wants the same thing, the truth to come out.

I truly want justice for Josiah’s family and believe that Kyle did not stab their son but without another investigation or at least a parallel investigation looking at other suspects I believe we will be at the same place in a year and both the Lawson family and the Zoellner family will have no peace.

Can we at least start by asking the APD whose finger print was found on the knife? One would think that if there is another person’s finger print on the knife then there likely is another person’s DNA on the knife. We now know that the APD and now Tom Parker never performed a parallel investigation to identify any other potential suspects despite knowing the only distinguishable finger print on the knife was not Kyles.

I believe that if this finger print is matched to an individual no matter who it is, male or female, the APD will be able to solve this case quickly.

We will continue to pray for the Lawson family that God can somehow bring them peace during this trial.

Jay Zoellner, uncle to Kyle Zoellner



  • I’m gonna get some popcorn for this

  • Guest, why do you think it’s cool to look so cold? This was a reasonable, heartfelt letter. A teenager dying is very sad.
    The letter’s next to last sentence indicates the writer isn’t aware that APD has solved relatively few serious crimes over the years. They never found the serial arsonist of 7 years etc

    • While the letter may be sincere, the circus in the comments section should be watched with popcorn and a cold drink.

      BTW not the same Guest.

    • George why would you say that? Has nothing to do with the article, it’s the comments that turn into a shit show (the same guest) but so far so good, kudos!

  • I believed from day one and continue to believe that given all the conflicting testimony and lack of evidence, there will never be a conviction in this case unless there is a confession.
    There are so many unsolved murders in Humboldt county there should be some kind of state or federal investigation of law enforcement here. In far too many cases absolutely nothing is done, despite much evidence and information.
    I appreciate that Ms Lawson is making a great effort to find out who murdered her child, but SOMEONE should be advocating for the many, many others who have been murdered and have no one holding anyone’s feet to the fire….

  • Pinch of Salt River

    So botched from the beginning. Wishing peace and closure for all, except the murderer and anyone withholding evidence or honest testimony. Nothing’s gonna bring him back…but closure is valuable to many in this case.

  • Here is a thought. Likely an unpopular one. Could possably one of the victims friends have pulled out the knife, and in the mass of crowd accidently stabbed him?

    • And then pointed the finger of blame at Zoellner and the medics and the police and everyone else repeatedly with lots of interviews and face time in front of the cameras? Nahhhhhh. He didn’t do anything. He’s just a victim in all this.

  • JustWantToHeartheEndoftheStory

    “Racial head wind” Good term for the environment in oh so politically correct Arcata. Has anyone looked into Parker’s clearance record? Is this narrow range of vision normal for him? Did the other party attendees, including those who changed their story between the first interview and the court hearing, return to HSU? All sorts of questions need answers, but the answers are hidden by that “racial head wind”

  • Well-stated letter The City of Arcata and APDs poorly-reasoned concerns about “racism” have ironically doomed this investigation Again- why were the guys who assaulted Kyle never arrested?! I don’t care about race. Arrest everybody and then sort it out later At least you would have a bunch of fingerprints and threats with which to acquire somebody’s confession Because of a poorly-enacted fear of stoking charges of racism APD actually ruined a chance of finding the murderer of this young black man It’s sad I wish the best for Josiah’s mother in her quest for justice

  • Someone please advise the Zoellner family to put a gag order on the Uncle and to only have an attorney speak on their behalf. Stop the PR game and go on offense by going to court. Talking serves no positive purpose.

    (I say this as someone who believes there are multiple sides to this story and is sick of the one-sided non-stop tabloidish media coverage from KAEF & KIEM).

  • Everyone knows who did it.

  • There is a fingerprint on the knife ?!?!?!?!? Is it unreasonable to just fingerprint everyone who was there to see if, possibly. it might belong to someone who was there? One would think, knowing this, that Charmaine would be pounding on APD’s door demanding they identify the fingerprint. I have to concur with Jay, “I believe that if this finger print is matched to an individual no matter who it is, male or female, the APD will be able to solve this case quickly.”

  • the young woman who says so confidently that zoellner didn’t do it: why does she say that? what is her evidence to reach that conclusion?
    if she said–i know where he was at from the time of the fight until josiah was discovered — would be one thing
    on the other hand –he’s such a nice guy, he wouldn’t do that–would be something noone would call forward.
    but a good police officer would really want to know why this woman kept saying that. did she do it? does she know who did?

    • The police already asked. Neither the police, the DA nor the Defense is going to try this in the press. Any real evidence will be kept quiet until the court trial. Until then it’s all speculation and posturing.

  • Not a bad point.

    Just what I’ve had an inkling of a thought about all along.
    What if this was just a terrible act of “friendly fire” (or stabbing) ?
    Would the justice of that truth, if it is the truth, be acceptable to those whose voices have been raised?
    Plus, if this was a “fratricide”, would it be justice to lock that buddy of his up, or should we just leave it as it is now: him being saddened and guilty he killed his own buddy. Would our “voted on” justice at that point only be for paperwork sake, or would it calm this storm?
    Let us hop that we shall see.

    • How do you accidentally stab your friend multiple times? Nice try but I don’t think so

      • From witness testimony, it sounds as though Josiah had Zoellner in a headlock on the ground and was wrestling him around the time of the stabbing. The movement in combination with the darkness and the fact that they had been pepper sprayed certainly make it more believable that Josiah’s injuries were the result of a couple misplaced jabs that were intended for Zoellner. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but as this article states, the investigation has stalled because individuals are unwilling to consider any other hypothesis. The “friendly fire” theory is certainly not out of the question

      • How do you stab someone multiple times on accident? By being blind drunk, excited, and in a crowd of excited blind drunks.

  • Was Kyle arrested at the scene immediately after the incident? If so, was the victim’s DNA on Kyle or his clothing? Stab someone with a 10 inch knife multiple times and walk away DNA free. Seems unlikely. Was the clothing of others at the scene analyzed, and if not, why?? Well, I think we all know why here in Unicornville.

  • I always did wonder why Josiah’s friends never voluntarily stepped forward and offered fingerprints to eliminate themselves as suspects, i damn sure would if it was my friend. Seems pretty suspicious if not worse. if his friends want it solved man up and volunteer your fingerprints or they should be a suspect as well.

  • Hey Kim–There’s another photo widely used of Zoellner that doesn’t make him look like a crazy thug the way the booking photo does–it would be a kindness to use it. Not only has he not been convicted, but a judge found there wasn’t enough evidence to even detain him.

  • Put lawsons friends through a lie detector, Emily can be present to see the truth, one of them will fail, multiple fights at same time, in the dark, a bunch beating one( really fair) kyle had no one helping him, so among the k- oss, one kid mistakenly stabbed one of his own, happens everyday on prison yards, seen it,and thats where one of these kids is going to end up. god bless.

  • Methinks the poo-bahs of Arcata and HSU don’t really want this crime to be solved. Because, the resulting scandal would ruin several highly placed people’s careers and trash the recruitment model that HSU has been using Remember Arcata is a company town , the company is HSU. Any information that’s embarrassing to higher ups at HSU is going be suppressed for as long as possible.

  • Although lie detectors are not 100% conclusive, I agree that Kyle, the girls and Josiah’s friends should be given the test. With two of Lawson’s friends right next to him in the fight, one of them knows what happened. If I was a betting person, my money is on one of Josiah’s friends accidentally did it; but nobody wants the investigation to go in that direction for the sake of the family then having to blame a friend, which would mean there is nothing to do with racial implications. Would also explain why the fingerprints and fibers are not being divulged. For all involved, hope it is solved soon.

  • It might be, a person left their finger print on the knife when they picked up the knife and flung it under the car. That person most likely knows who the murderer is.

    • Lean on them and lean on them hard! Oh, but instead the APD caved in to the racism charges and then allowed the mob to take over Safeway parking lot, holding little old ladies hostage to their cause…while APD hid in their station right across the street! The entire force should resign and so should all the city council members.

  • Let us not forget other interesting personnel issues at the City of Arcata…Chapman resigns (forced to leave). Private investigator quits case. Also, the City’s financial manager, Gina Luzzi resigned from position, the Building and Planning department head, Chad forced to retire, and the Parks and Buildings Supervisor fired.

    All within the last couple months!!

    The “laissez-faire, drugs are not bad” atmosphere created by the City leaders and City Council and the lack of focus on the real problems has sure proven itself lately.

    Pathetic liberal experiment. City is in bad shape!

  • Couple things, Lawson had something of a reputation as a scrapper. He was also pretty closely dialed into the HSU Administration.There are persistent rumors that he and his buddies were fond of ” rat packing ” people at parties. That some of these incidents were in fact brought to attention of proper authorities but covered up smoothed over by Lawson’s connections in the HSU administration i the interest of ” inclusiveness ” and ” diversity”However, when the kid comes back with knife in the heart they can’t really smooth that over. Lot of this racial animosity is being ginned up by folks who are eager to distract from their own roles in allowing this debacle to occur

    • Ditch Humboldt's supervisors.

      Lawson’s close friend testified that Lawson’s girlfriend was the primary instigator, and that she has a reputation to match. She claims she was attacked, curiously by being bitten on the breast. Closer inspection of testimony and common sense suggests Lawson’s girlfriend had Kyle’s girlfriend by the hair in a hold first, when Lawson’s girlfriend was “attacked” by….being bitten on the breast. Is it true the guy who gave testimony about Lawson’s girlfriend was subsequently kicked out of Brothers United?

  • Nobody knows the the stabbings I have seen. Nobody knows cept'in me.

    A dump truck load of opinions as to what happened. Logically, it could have been a friend who jumped in to help beat Zoellner. And in the scuffle and trying to stab Zoellner stabbed Lawson. Might be a reasonable scenario. And it could have been a female or a very close male friend. I thought of one of Lawson’s friends who has protested more than anyone else that were in the Lawson’s circle of friends. Many times the person who grandstands loudly is trying to cover his/her tracks. I willingly admit my thoughts a speculative. I have not seen any evidence except what I have read on the media. Most of my thoughts are formed by thinking of any and hopefully most of how human behavior reacts in a violent situations. When I was their age we would jump in to protect a friend. I recall on several occasions when one of my friends acted in support and mistakenly hit the friend they were trying to assist. Especially when conditions were dark and difficult to see who was who and emotions were close to being out of control. When the police would ask who started the fight finger pointing came from both sides. Sometimes the guilty party would loudly claim, “it wasn’t me!!!”. And friends would support that instigator and actually believe what they didn’t actually see. The brain has the ability to fill in gaps of missing facts with fantasy. That has been proven many times.

  • Anyone read the latest Zoellner/Lawson coverage on LoCo? Lawson family attorney says the fingerprint on the knife was actually a palm print too smudged to identify. Therefore, she says, Zoellner can’t be ruled out. She also claims Zoellner and Lawson’s blood was on the knife found under the car. Supposedly Arcata police gave all this information to Lawson’s mother. If Zoellner’s blood really was on the knife, that looks bad. I personally don’t believe he’s the killer, but I’m keeping an open mind.

    • as I recommended before, which got me permanently band from commenting on LOCO and all of my comments related to this case deleted, “it would be prudent to visit the last five catering locations of private homes Kyle worked at to see if the knife matches a set at any of those locations.” I say this because caterer’s tend to leave locations with more utensils than they came with. and then there an episode of “party down” where this action is portrayed. to me this case is a no brainer. who had the motive? who had a car load of kitchen knives?

  • So many commenters who doubt Zoellner’s guilt assume it was Lawson’s friends accidentally stabbing him trying to get Zoellner……twice. If not Zoellner, isn’t the next most likely suspect his girlfriend Ortega? She literally said that she hoped Lawson died at the scene. Ever wonder why Mcfarland was so certain it wasn’t Zoellner?

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