March 15 marked seven months since Jason and Lindsay died. I pray every day that the person who killed them will be apprehended and brought to justice before they hurt or kill anyone else. So far, that person has not been captured, but I have faith that he will be eventually. This article is really interesting. It includes some information that I had not known until I read it.
No closure in Jenner slayings...
Seven months after a double killing shocked the coastal community, police have no suspects and those touched by the tragedy struggle to move on.
Monday, March 21, 2005
By DEREK J. MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
There aren't any memorials on the remote Jenner beach where Jason Allen and his fiancee, Lindsay Cutshall, were slain in their sleeping bags last summer.
There is only gray sand, driftwood, assorted junk and, one day last week, a sea lion that popped its head from the chilly surf, eyeing intruders on its turf.
Evidence that may lead to the Ohio couple's killer has been either gathered by investigators or swept away by the tides.
It's been seven months, but authorities say they still have no suspects, no murder weapon and no motive for the killings of Allen, 26, and Cutshall, 22, despite an avalanche of tips and a few false confessions.
"A couple of them were the big guy at the bar," said Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Freitas, who is overseeing the investigation. "By the time we show up at that person's door, they go, 'Whoa, that was a mistake.'"
Cutshall's and Allen's bodies were discovered on what local residents refer to as Driftwood or Fish Head Beach on Aug. 18, five days after they left a white-water rafting camp in El Dorado County, where they'd worked for the summer as counselors.
Investigators believe the couple, who planned to return to Ohio and marry, were killed in their sleep Aug. 14. Each was shot once in the head at close range with a .45-caliber rifle as they lay side by side in separate sleeping bags.
Freitas said detectives have confiscated about 100 rifles, not all of them belonging to Sonoma County residents. Each weapon is sent to the state Department of Justice for ballistics testing, but so far a match hasn't been found.
Freitas said investigators are still awaiting test results on trace evidence sent to a state lab for possible DNA clues.
Investigators also have collected 900 tips and filled eight black binders - each one about 4 inches thick - with reports. The Sheriff's Department hired an intern to specifically help with the case.
"I have faith that at some point this case will be solved," Freitas said.
With each passing day, however, the trail grows colder.
Any record of the violence has long since vanished from the beach where the couple was killed. The same could be said of Jenner, where the focus last week was on the return of the tourist season.
Restaurants that have been closed for the winter are in the process of reopening. Lodging rates are rising, as are concerns for the safety of hundreds of harbor seals that annually haul out to give birth at the confluence of the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean.
On "Jenner News," an Internet chat room many in the community of 800 use to keep in touch, the focus lately has been on a woman whose daughter underwent surgery, and concerns about a timber harvest plan that failed to materialize.
Seven months ago, that same chat room was dominated by one topic: the slayings of Allen and Cutshall.
"It's not been a topic of conversation," said David Kenly, an at-home software engineer who monitors the chat room. "People get back to work, go back to their lives."
That isn't to say the killings have been forgotten in the tight-knit community.
"We say, 'God, it's such a mystery,'" said Gail Andersen, an innkeeper at the Jenner Inn. "You don't want to think there's a wacko out there blowing people away on the beach."
She said many residents still wonder how the couple discovered the remote beach, which is reached by a steep and unmarked trail. Camping is illegal there, but the spot has earned a reputation for illicit activity.
"They made a terrible decision to stay at that beach," said Joel Martin, who remembers Cutshall's buying something at his souvenir shop and Allen's Ford Tempo, which was held together partially by duct tape.
Authorities found the car on a Highway 1 turnout overlooking the beach where the couple's bodies were found.
A month after the grisly discoveries, members of the Jenner Community Center sent a letter to Allen's and Cutshall's parents, expressing condolences for their loss.
"What occurred is unfathomable," said the Sept. 26 letter, which hasn't been made public until now. "Our North Coast beach should have been an idyllic location - and turned into the opposite."
Chris Cutshall, Lindsay Cutshall's father and an Ohio pastor, answered the letter with one of his own a week later. In it he quoted the Book of Job - "For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward" - and thanked the Jenner community for its sympathy.
"We certainly hold no ill feeling toward you, but thank you for holding us in your hearts, and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ minister to your spirits," the letter said.
Reached at his church in Fresno, Ohio, last week, Cutshall praised sheriff's investigators for their dedication to the case and said he's hopeful the killer will be found.
He said he's considered the possibility that the couple were killed because of their religious beliefs. Among the possessions found at the crime scene were a Bible and Christian wedding literature.
"In the beginning, we thought it might be a persecution murder," Cutshall said. "They were bold about their faith. They didn't ram it down their (people's) throats. They were tactful. At the same time, it wouldn't take much for someone to realize these people were Christians and love the Lord."
At least two men who claimed to harbor ill will toward Christians have been checked out by investigators and cleared of any involvement in the case.
One was a Sonoma County parolee who, shortly before he was killed in October in an alleged robbery attempt gone awry, reportedly told a friend that he had killed Cutshall and Allen after making them renounce their faith.
That lead fizzled when detectives learned the man was in the Sonoma County Jail on a parole violation and en route to San Quentin State Prison the weekend of the slayings.
Authorities also interrogated a Wisconsin drifter who reportedly had been seen with the couple prior to their death and, according to his family, held animosity toward religious people.
Reached by phone recently, Nicholas Scarseth, 21, confirmed his dislike of Christians and gave conflicting statements about whether he had any involvement in the deaths.
"That Christianity stuff is interesting," Scarseth said. "You know, I thought about it. What if I got drunk and blacked out, but I would never do that. I was 97 percent sure I didn't."
Scarseth said detectives interviewed him for about 12 hours Aug. 24 and took samples of his hair and bodily fluids before letting him go.
Freitas said Scarseth never expressed any doubt about his innocence during that interrogation, and reiterated that he isn't considered a suspect.
"He didn't say anything like that to us," Freitas said. "He gave us a good alibi where he was, and he wasn't in Jenner at the time of the murders."
Freitas said the FBI is close to finishing a profile of the suspected killer and their findings will likely match detectives' own theories.
"Basically our track is to work the tips," Freitas said. "We're looking for the gun, big time, and waiting for the (possible DNA) evidence to come back."
Cutshall said he's convinced his daughter's death was the work of one man who "stalked" the couple. He's never been to the beach, but hopes to go this summer when he comes to California to lead a memorial service at the rafting camp.
"There isn't a day that goes by that we don't memorialize Jason and Lindsay's lives," he said. "I was looking forward to him being my son-in-law. They're incredibly special to us."