Family of Arcata Stabbing Suspect Claims the Real Killer Has Not Been Caught (Includes Timeline of Events as Presented in Public Statements by Those at the Party)
David Josiah Lawson and Kyle Zoellner
In the early hours of April 15, a 19-year-old Humboldt State Student, David Josiah Lawson was stabbed to death in Arcata at a party. Kyle Zoellner was arrested and charged in his death.
Zoellner’s family believe he is being convicted in the media without his side of events being presented. They have released a statement with a conflicting version of what occurred that night. The statements they alleged have not been proved. We have not talked to the witnesses. However, neither did we talk to the witnesses used to bring charges against Zoellner. In the interest of presenting both sides here is the Zoellner family statement which will be followed by a timeline compiled by this reporter of what is known publically at this point. Contradictions between the witnesses will be pointed out.
The Zoellner Family Statement:
The purpose of this statement is to challenge the public statements that have publically convicted Kyle Zoellner of a crime he unequivocally did not commit. Kyle is a responsible young man who has had the same job for 3 years and works 40-50 hours a week. For the record the reported information that referenced the alleged incident of Kyle assaulting a woman was nothing but a sibling fight between Kyle and his sister that has been ridiculously overblown and did not involve a weapon.
Currently there is an active murderer in the community that must be found now so others’ lives are not at risk of something happening again like the tragic death of Josiah Lawson. Any information is so critical at this time while witness’s memories are still fresh. The family’s message to all witnesses is to please come forward at this time and share what they saw at the party.
The continued public statements being made by one specific friend of Josiah’s continue to deflect the attention of all from the most important task of bringing the truth out so the actual person that committed this crime is brought to justice.
The following information is to bring clarity to what actually took place at the party where Josiah was stabbed:
One or more of the girls that were at the party where the stabbing took place shared what they witnessed to the father of Kyle soon after the stabbing. Kyle’s father shared what he was told to a family spokesperson to get this version of the stabbing out to the public as this version completely contradicts what has been publicly stated by both the victims’ friends and by the police.
Key events that took place at the party that were witnessed by one or more of the girls:
- 4 friends (girls) were at the party and one of these girls was Kyle’s girlfriend
- Kyle was not at the party but was called to pick the girls up around 3 am as he was at home and was the designated driver
- Kyle’s girlfriend could not find her phone. When individuals were asked by Kyle if they had seen Kyle’s girlfriend’s cellphone, Kyle’s girlfriend was struck in the face by one of the men (she still has a black eye)
- Then an altercation ensued between Kyle and one of the men at the party (this individual was not Josiah)
- Kyle got him into a hold until he finally released him
- His car keys and cell phone came out of his sweatshirt while he had been wrestling on the ground and as he was looking for them, he was attacked by multiple individuals that began punching and kicking him. Kyle never got off the ground
- During the attack two of the girls were spraying mace to try to protect Kyle and witnessed exactly what took place during the entire period of the altercation that involved Kyle and the attackers
- Kyle was knocked unconscious by these attackers for several minutes
- After Kyle had been beaten and was unconscious someone in the background yelled “someone got stabbed”
(There were multiple fights going on at this time according to the police and witnesses)
The family believes Kyle deserves to have the above information shared to the public (that came from eye witnesses) so both the Public and Police can start asking critical questions to bring out the truth of this tragic event. That is all the family wants at this time, the truth to come out and the actual person that committed this crime apprehended and held responsible.
Finally, the family is heartbroken that a young man’s life was lost and our family, which is a family of Faith, has continually been praying for all the family and friends of Josiah.
This reporter gathered information from multiple sources trying to piece together what is known publically from multiple media and police accounts. Here is the compiled information with links to the sources.
Timeline events with contradictions indicated.
- A party was held on the night of April 14th that continued on until approximately 3 a.m. on April 15th in the 1100 block of Spear Avenue in Arcata
- According to the statement above by Zoellner’s family, Kyle Zoellner was called to pick up four girls (including his girlfriend) from the party around 3 a.m.
- Most public statements agree that after Zoellner got to the party, Kyle’s girlfriend was asking people about her missing phone. Some say she was accusing individuals of stealing the phone.
- David Josiah Lawson was accused of stealing Kyle Zoellner’s girlfriend’s phone by “some women and a white boy,” according to Elijah Chandler. Or Kyle Castillo, a student at College of the Redwoods, was accused of stealing the phone, according to Castillo. Possibly multiple people were accused/asked about the phone.
- According to Zoellner’s family statement above, Kyle’s girlfriend was struck in the face by one of the men. Or she was possibly struck by David Josiah Lawson’s girlfriend Ren as Castillo claims Ren and Kyle Zoellner’s girlfriend were in a physical fight.
- Zoellner’s family states, “Then an altercation ensued between Kyle and one of the men at the party (this individual was not Josiah).” However, Kyle Castillo, the College of the Redwoods’ student, states after Lawson’s girlfriend and Zoellner’s girlfriend got into a fight, “‘That’s when me and my brother and Josiah got into it’ with Kyle Zoellner.‘”
- Zoellner’s family, however, states that Kyle Zoellner got into a fight with a single man (not Lawson) and “got him into a hold until he finally released him.” Then they say at that point he was “attacked by multiple individuals that began punching and kicking him” until he was knocked unconscious.
- Zoellner’s family states that during the time Zoellner was in the altercation with multiple individuals, “two of the girls were spraying mace to try to protect Kyle and witnessed exactly what took place during the entire period of the altercation that involved Kyle and the attackers.”
- However, Castillo states, ‘“It was the three of us against him and he was on the floor. And then we kinda stopped it and that’s when one of the girls pepper sprayed [Castillo’s brother] in his eyes…It got into all of our mouths and eyes a little bit.”
- Castillo states that he, his brother, David Josiah Lawson, and Lawson’s girlfriend Ren left the party and walked to the street. He said they had all been affected by the pepper spray.
- Castillo states that Lawson and his girlfriend went back to the house and were stabbed. ““By the time I got back, Josiah was lying in the bushes next to the house. He was stabbed when he went back into the house with Ren,” he said.
- Zoellner’s family stated, “After Kyle had been beaten and was unconscious someone in the background yelled “someone got stabbed.” They contend that Kyle Zoellner the man arrested for the stabbing was unconscious at the time it occurred.
- We do not have public statements from anyone who actually witnessed the stabbing.
- Elijah Chandler, the Humboldt State student, who later performs CPR on Lawson allegedly told the Mad River Union that “The instant he learned that Lawson had been pepper sprayed – allegedly by one of two female companions with Zoellner – and then stabbed in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Chandler ran off in the front yard to find his stricken friend.“
- Chandler allegedly told Channel 7 News, “[A]nother member of Brothers United, which is a community-based cultural club intended to unite men of color at HSU, disarmed [Zoellner.]”
- We do know that David Josiah Lawson, age 19, was stabbed multiple times.
- Chandler says that Lawson’s girlfriend, Ren, was also stabbed “at least twice on her left arm.“
- After the stabbing, Elijah Chandler begins CPR on Lawson. He gets Ren, Lawson’s girlfriend to assist him.
- At approximately 3:05 a.m. according to the Broadcastify tape of the incident, Arcata Police are dispatched to the scene of a fight. Here is the scanner tape for approximately the first 13 minutes of the incident.
- At 3:03 a.m., according to Arcata Police, the first Arcata Police officer arrived. (This discrepancy in time is likely explained by the imprecise nature of the Broadcastify scanner recording timing.) At that time, there were 50 to 100 people at the scene
- “A knife was recovered at the scene of the crime.”
- David Josiah Lawson is “pronounced dead at the Mad River Hospital as a result of the stab wounds.”
- Kyle Zoellner, age 23 of McKinleyville, was arrested at the scene for homicide.
- ON 4/17 the mother of victim tells the Times Standard, ““They told me the suspect might be released because even though they have 13 eyewitnesses, no one saw the suspect with the knife.”
- On “4/18, the APD received an anonymous email from someone who may have witnessed the homicide.” They ask for that person to come forward.
- On 4/19, Kyle Zoellner pled not guilty.
- EDIT UPDATE 11:04 p.m.: The Mad River Union pointed out, “Zoellner admitted that “he was involved in a physical fight” with Lawson, according to the probable-cause notes submitted to the court by Arcata Police Detective Sgt. Todd Dokweiler.”
According to an article in the Times Standard posted yesterday evening, Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman indicated that all the information available to law enforcement is not publically available. “We do not try cases in the media,” he said.
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- Arcata Police Not Releasing Photo of Suspect in Stabbing Death for Now
- APD Received Anonymous Email About Fatal Stabbing; Pleads With Writer to Come Forward
- Celebration of the Life of Stabbing Victim Will be Held at Humboldt State University Today; Racial Bias Alleged to Have Led to Death
- Hundreds Mourn Slain HSU Student at Thursday Vigil
- Uncle of Fatal Stabbing Suspect Writes Letter to the Editor Urging Community Re-examine Public Statements Made in the Case