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Murder suspect finds new man behind bars

Dec 17, 2012

By The Associated Press

ST. HELENS — Columbia County jailers allege defendants in two of Oregon’s highest-profile recent crime sprees carried on a clandestine relationship behind bars, devising a communication strategy fit for a spy novel.

Officials uncovered the relationship last month when they found a love note written by Andrew Barnett, accused of perpetrating a recent anthrax hoax that targeted a number of Portland law enforcement and commercial centers. The object of his affection was Holly Grigsby, charged in a three-state killing spree that claimed 19-year-old Cody Myers of Lafayette as one of four victims.

The note was found hidden in a law book on a library shelf. Most of the four-page letter was vulgar and sexually explicit, and it included a racist rant against the African American judge presiding over both their cases, according to Lt. Tony Weaver, a jail supervisor.

Barnett devised a complex way to communicate that involved book bindings marked with stars and other symbols, dog-eared pages and a numeric code so Grigsby could find the right volume. He said at least two other inmates were also using books in the law library as dead-drops for secret communications.

“They called it their ‘e-mail’ system,” Weaver said.

Authorities moved the library to a more secure location, Weaver said. And while inmates can still access those books, they have to select their fiction and non-fiction reading material from a cart that visits each cell in turn.

Grigsby, an avowed white supremacist, is awaiting trial on federal racketeering charges. She and her partner, David “Joey” Pederson, allegedly killed four people last fall — Myers in Oregon, a husband and wife in Washington and an African American man in California — as part of a campaign to “purify” and “preserve” the white race.

Barnett has a long history of challenging authorities from behind bars.

In his most recent case, he’s accused of mailing a mysterious white powder to a federal prosecutor last year in an apparent attempt to simulate an anthrax attack. An array of similar mailings from the jail to six Portland locations, including the Lloyd Center mall, the downtown Portland Hilton and Portland International Airport, were subsequently discovered.

In response, Barnett was moved from the downtown Portland Justice Center to the Columbia County Jail in St. Helens. He was issued a pencil with orange lead, the only one of it’s kind in the facility, so jailers could better monitor his future communications.

He got permission to use the library so he could prepare to defend himself against his federal charges.

Inside the library, he found a ventilation shaft connected to the adjacent women’s housing unit. That’s how he established contact with Grigsby.

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