Witnesses Sought in Fatal Arcata Stabbing

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The Arcata Police Department is looking to interview everyone who attended the house party where a 19-year-old Humboldt State University student was fatally stabbed early Saturday morning.

“Sometimes people are witnesses without really knowing they were witnesses, so we’re doing our best to reach out to and speak to everyone,” said Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman. "We’re trying to track those people down to see what they saw and what they didn’t see.”

Police responded to a house in the 1100 block of Spear Avenue at about 3 a.m. to find David Josiah Lawson bleeding from multiple stab wounds. Lawson later died at a local hospital.

Chapman said at least 50 people were still at the party when police arrived, and that police have already interviewed at least 20 witnesses, with many more interviews scheduled.

Police have arrested 23-year-old Kyle Christopher Zoellner on suspicion of murder but prosecutors have yet to charge him. Chapman declined to discuss details of the case, saying he doesn’t want to taint the recollections of witnesses who have yet to be interviewed.

Zoellner, whose Facebook page listed him as a native of Concord before it was taken down today, faced misdemeanor marijuana possession charges back in 2013 that were ultimately dismissed. He was also arrested in June of that year by Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies at his McKinleyville residence on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly chocking an 18-year-old woman, according to Undersheriff William Honsal. Zoellner never faced criminal charges stemming from that arrest, Honsal said, as the district attorney’s office deemed there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the case.

With Arcata police looking to interview as many witnesses as possible, the university sent out a press release earlier today telling students who may have been at the party that they won’t face any disciplinary actions for violations of university conduct codes that occurred at the party so long as they weren’t involved in harming Lawson.

According to his Facebook page, Lawson is from Perris, in Riverside County, where he attended Moreno Valley High School before coming to HSU.

Both APD and the university are asking anyone in attendance that night to come forward and speak with investigators. Numerous hotlines have been set up for potential witnesses, and you can find them listed in the press release below.

From HSU:

Police Seeking Witnesses from Student Death
Any students who may have witnessed or have information about the stabbing death of David Josiah Lawson are asked to speak with Arcata Police as soon as possible.
You can give a statement on campus and campus offices can facilitate meetings with officers. With criminal investigations time is a critical element, so officers are asking students to provide information as soon as possible.
If you are a victim or witness in this investigation or proceedings, you will not be subject to disciplinary sanctions by the University for related violations of conduct policies occurring at or near the time of the incident, unless the behavior involved harming the victim.
Lawson, who went by Josiah, was killed early Saturday morning during a gathering that took place on the 1100 block of Spear Ave, in Arcata.
A detective will be available throughout today on campus, and students can drop in at their convenience to give a statement. Students may drop in or contact the Office of the Dean of Students in Siemens Hall room 211 or at 707-826-3504. Students may also contact the office of the Centers for Academic Excellence at 707-826-4588. They may also contact Arcata Police directly at 707-822-2428 or University Police at 707-826-5555.
Statement interviews can last a significant amount of time, so patience at this time is very much appreciated.
Students who are in need of support at anytime can contact Counseling & Psychological services at 707-826-3236. Staff or faculty seeking additional support may utilize the Employee Assistance Program at 707-443-7358.


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