Since then, the case has languished. Witness accounts, the APD release states, "are crucial to bringing this case back to court."
But the investigation into the her son's fatal stabbing has been troubled from the start, plagued by a series of crucial initial missteps in controlling and processing the crime scene and securing potential witnesses, and subsequent trouble getting additional witnesses to come forward and cooperate.
A February 2020 report from the National Police Foundation found that while the emergency response did everything possible to try to save Lawson's life, “many basic tenets of crime scene security and management” were not followed. The report cited a systemic failure by the police department’s then leadership to provide adequate training on crime scene management and command skills, which severely hindered the ensuing investigation.
That was followed a few months later by a Humoldt County Civil Grand Jury report, which found "failures, ineptitudes and poorly executed police work" but stated "it did not find direct evidence of racial bias."
A criminal grand jury convened in February of 2019 to hear evidence in the case voted not to indict anyone.
Five years ago today Cal Poly Humboldt sophomore student David Josiah Lawson was murdered while attending a house party in Arcata.
The Arcata Police Department continues to investigate this open murder case and continues to consult with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office and the State of California's Attorney General's Office on investigative resources that may lead to justice in this case.
A 24-hour tip line remains open whereby information from confidential sources can be provided to APD investigators that may lead to additional tips and leads.
According to Arcata Chief of Police Brian Ahearn, the need for witnesses to come forward is necessary in order to move closer to achieving justice. "It is paramount that witnesses come forward. Our investigative team remains at the ready to respond to anyone at any time to document their statement as we continue the fact-finding process."
Anyone with information regarding the murder of Josiah Lawson is asked to call the Arcata Police Department's confidential tip line at (707) 825-2590 or APD Dispatch at (707) 822-2424.
Eyewitness accounts of what led up to, and including the murder of Josiah are crucial to bringing this case back to court.