Lindsay C. Cutshall
[09/09/81 - 08/15/04]

Lindsay & Jason
Jason S. Allen
[05/16/78 - 08/15/04]

♥ "The sun is going down on the horizon, and all I see is the beams shining on the cliff face, and I know that God is awesome. I look around and see His Creation all around me." --Lindsay ♥                                                                                 ♥ "As I stir this Mac & Cheese, I think to myself, what a wonderful life. I've just spent two awesome days with my fiance, Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it with." --Jason ♥                                                                                 ♥ "Live for things in heaven, not on earth." --Lindsay ♥                                                                                 ♥ "Heaven will be a wonderful place of no suffering, hurt, loneliness; it's a great thing to look forward to." --Lindsay ♥

Friday, August 19, 2005

Families of faith...

I know I have said this before, but I am in awe of the Allens and the Cutshalls. I have never seen anyone respond to an enormous personal tragedy with so much grace, faith, and God-given strength.


Here is another article that was featured in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper earlier this week.

Faith Helps Families Cope With Loss...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

BY: Derek J. Moore | The Press Democrat

When he stands before his congregation this morning, on the anniversary of his daughter's death, the Rev. Chris Cutshall will talk about contentment.

He will open his Bible to Philippians 4:10-13, which in part says, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."

The sermon's theme may not be the obvious choice for someone who has suffered such hurt. But Cutshall said he and his wife, Kathy, who live in Fresno, Ohio, have found some peace despite their daughter's violent death and the knowledge that her killer is still free.

"Even in the midst of that pain and loss we've felt a contentment and satisfaction in God and his grace, and know that He is using this supreme evil for extreme good," Cutshall said by phone last week.

Still, there are moments when that faith is tested.

That's perhaps never more true than when the couple steps inside Lindsay's room, which has remained virtually as it was when she left the small Ohio town last summer for California.

"When I need a good cry, I go hang out in her room," said Cutshall, who is pastor of the 160-member Fresno Bible Church. "It serves a function."

Faith is equally important to Bob and Dolores Allen, who will attend church in Zeeland, Mich., this morning on the anniversary of their son's death.

Jason Allen dreamed of working as a counselor at a camp for Christian kids, a dream that was cut short when he and Lindsay Cutshall, his fiancee, were shot to death on a beach north of Jenner.

"Some days are real hard," Dolores Allen said. "All in all, I think we're doing quite well. We rely on our faith and trust in the Lord. His grace has been sufficient for us."

Following the church services, the Cutshalls will meet the Allens at a cabin on Lake Michigan, where they plan to spend the next couple days relaxing and reminiscing.

The families last saw one another over Father's Day for a memorial service at the white-water rafting camp in Coloma where their kids worked as counselors. Afterward, they drove to Sonoma County to meet with sheriff's detectives.

That's as close as they got to the beach where their children were slain.

"I don't think I could have handled that," Dolores Allen said.

Both families receive regular updates from detectives. But they say they aren't overly anxious that the case has yet to be solved.

"We're not on edge," Chris Cutshall said. "If they don't ever solve it, we know God, in the end, will bring justice to the situation. We're confident about that."

By the way, today is my birthday. One year ago today, I found out that Jason and Lindsay had been found and that they had been murdered. Believe me, that is a day I will NEVER forget. Needless to say, it was not a day of celebration. :( I am thankful, however, that this past year has been a year of much personal growth in my faith because of this tragedy. God has really been working on me! And I know I'm not the only one. Knowing that God can use circumstances like these to bring forth ultimate good and glory to His Holy Name is so awesome... I never would have guessed that so much good could come from so much heartbreak. ♥

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Informative article...

[Update: It makes me sad that I even have to write this... because I thought that the media would value decency and common sense when addressing a story such as this. However, I recently found out that the news source from the article addressed in this post may not have been honest in its approach to obtaining this information (which isn't altogether surprising in this day and age) but the real problem is that it appears that they may not have even had permission from authorities to release this information to the public in the first place. (By the way, this happened once before already.) Throwing ethics out the window, in a case such as this, in search for the "best story" is unacceptable. There isn't anything we can do about it now... but PLEASE... if you are of the media... be RESPECTFUL to the wishes of the families of the victims and NEVER do anything that might damage the integrity of a criminal investigation... especially a murder investigation that is hungry for leads. Please respect the wishes of the detectives and investigators as well... the integrity of their work depends on it. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.]

I found a recent article that lists, in detail, some news from the ongoing investigation into the murders of Jason & Lindsay. One year ago, today, their bodies were found on that remote beach in Jenner, California. This article is full of information that I had never even heard before, so it is interesting and thought-provoking. However, it grieves me to read it because it is another reminder that there is still no resolution... the person who hunted them down and killed them is still out there... free to "enjoy" life while those most personally affected by this horrifying tragedy are left in a constant state of residual shock, grief, and bewilderment.

I don't presume to count myself as being one most personally affected by this tragedy... I don't feel like I can even begin to count myself as a part of that group because obviously this is much more heart-wrenching and painful to the parents and the siblings of Jason and Lindsay. I can't speak for their immediate families. They alone can speak for themselves... and they do... with unbelievable conviction and faith in our Heavenly Father. I am moved just as much by their faith in the aftermath as by the faith that Jason and Lindsay lived by.

In my Bible study last night... we wrapped up a 10-week series on a study of the Patriarchs. Beth Moore, a Christian writer and speaker for women's ministries, wrote this study and I found that much of what we learned in it can relate to this tragedy. God doesn't cause tragedies... Satan does. God will never allow a tragedy to occur unless He, in His ultimate sovereignty, knows that much good can come from it... to change the hearts and eternities of countless people and to bring glory to His Name. And He is a God Who keeps His promises... He always does!!! In my own personal life experiences and challenges, God has ALWAYS come through for me with flying colors. He loves us all SO much... so much so that he gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, up to be murdered/killed for unjust reasons. Jesus was not guilty of any wrongdoing... but He was tortured and killed by sinners... and He WILLINGLY did so with US in mind. That huge sacrifice is literally our saving grace. That is the only way by which we can be saved for eternity! That boggles my mind. What an awesome God we serve! He can bring so much ultimate GOOD through tragedy... and although we all suffer in one way or another... that suffering is meant to lessen our grip on this earthly life and keep us looking forward to our home in heaven! Our heartstrings are attached to heaven... and we ache and long for heaven because we know we belong there. We are like strangers on this earth... we don't always feel like we "belong" here because we don't! Our true home is in heaven! While we are here on earth, we are called to be different as children of the Living God. We are the vessels through which Jesus shines His light in this dark world. Jason and Lindsay were awesome vessels for Christ in their lives and they continue to be even in their deaths. Glory to God in the highest!


This article was featured in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper earlier this week.

Jenner Killings: Unsolved, But Not Forgotten...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

BY: Derek J. Moore | The Press Democrat

Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall didn't just sign their names or leave a perfunctory we-were-here message in a spiral notebook left for visitors on a remote Jenner beach.

"The sun is going down in the horizon," Cutshall, 22, wrote. "All I see is the beams shining on the cliff face. And I know that God is awesome."

"As I stir this Mac and Cheese," Allen, 26, penned afterward, "I think to myself what a wonderful life. I've just spent two awesome days with my fiance Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect."

The unabashed love expressed in those words, written one year ago today, stands in painful contrast to the violence that occurred later, perhaps that same night, after the pair bundled themselves in separate sleeping bags and went to sleep.

Someone shot Allen and Cutshall once each in the head at close range with a rifle, killing them both and ending their dreams of getting married soon after returning home to Ohio.

The case remains unsolved. But new information released by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, including the notebook entries, and interviews with people who say they saw the couple the weekend they died, open the door a little wider onto an investigation that appears to have stalled and grows colder with each passing day.

"The tips are dying down," said sheriff's Detective Dave Thompson, the lead investigator on the case.

One of the enduring mysteries of the case is how the couple discovered Fish Head Beach, which is about a quarter-mile north of Jenner at the bottom of a steep, unmarked trail.

The answer may lie with a Sebastopol surf-shop owner whose identity until recently was a closely guarded secret.

Bruce "Pops" Landry said he steered Cutshall and Allen to the beach after the couple stopped in his store the afternoon of Aug. 14, 2004, and inquired about a place to camp.

"I said there's only one place I know of where you won't get busted by the cops, and that's Fish Head Beach north of the River's End (restaurant). But I said it might be foggy there," Landry recalled while sitting outside California Surf Shop.

The 56-year-old shop owner said he felt a connection with the young couple after learning they were engaged, and that they had spent the summer counseling kids at a Christian white-water rafting camp in El Dorado County.

The couple had left the camp a day before in Allen's beat-up Ford Tempo for what was supposed to be their final weekend in California before heading home and getting married three weeks later.

Landry said he dedicated his own life to God and to helping kids after recovering from a serious accident in 2001.

"I was intrigued by them," he said.

Landry said Cutshall was "mesmerized" by the necklace that he wore, which had a brilliant blue stone called "The Blue Room," a surfing term that refers to being inside the tube of a crashing wave.

Landry said he gave Cutshall a necklace just like it, clasping it around her neck with the admonition, "I hope you guys have as many beautiful years as my wife and I have had over 30 years."

Necklace missing

Landry said detectives told him that they didn't find any such necklace after the bodies were discovered on the beach, raising the possibility that the killer took it. Sheriff's investigators have said all along that nothing was taken from the couple.

Among other things, detectives found two cameras, wedding literature, Jason's wallet and Lindsay's jewelry -- an engagement ring and a diamond necklace -- at the campsite.

But Thompson said Landry passed a polygraph test when he was interviewed by detectives at the Sheriff's Department about a month ago. Authorities declined further comment on the statements Landry made during their five-hour interview.

Landry said detectives were suspicious of the interest he had taken in the couple and his role in directing them to the beach. He said they told him that he was a "prime suspect" in the case.

"They asked me out and out, did I kill them. I said, 'No, I didn't.'"

Landry, who has a habit of hugging everyone he meets and has a license plate on his truck that reads, "Rafiki," the Swahili word for "friend," said he feels horrible for directing the couple to the beach.

He said detectives asked him if they would find any of his DNA at the crime scene. He said he told them that he hugged and kissed Allen and Cutshall on the cheek at his shop, then touched Allen's car before they drove away.

Landry said he agreed to the interview with detectives over the objection of family and friends because he wants the killer caught. But he said it pained him to be labeled a suspect in the case.

"It hurt me because I was being so loving," he said. "But they (detectives) are doing their job. ... I know they're doing their best to find the person."

Landry said he contacted investigators the week that the couple's bodies were found to report that Cutshall and Allen had been in his shop.

Why authorities waited 11 months to formally interview him is unknown, although investigators have worked methodically to follow tips -- 865 so far -- and clear people from the list of potential suspects.

Polygraph tests

Landry is one of five people who have been given polygraphs to date, Thompson said.

The others include Nicholas Scarseth, a Wisconsin drifter who was on the North Coast at the time of the slayings; a Napa man who owned a black sedan similar to one authorities were seeking; and a Healdsburg man who worked with the couple at the white-water camp.

Thompson said detectives "ran (the Healdsburg man) down pretty hard right off the bat" after he "expressed an interest" in the couple. He said the man had an alibi and passed a polygraph.

Thompson said detectives still don't know why the couple were killed. But he is convinced that whoever did it went down to the beach with the specific intent of doing them harm, as opposed to a random attack.

"Someone went down there with a rifle with the intention of killing Jason and Lindsay," he said.

Detectives and the couple's families have wondered whether someone took offense at their religious beliefs. The notebook entries make it clear that they weren't shy about stating their faith in public.

"Our kids wouldn't jam the gospel down someone's throat," said Chris Cutshall, Lindsay's father and an Ohio pastor. "At the same time, they weren't ashamed of their faith."

Variety of interviews

In their search for suspects or leads, detectives have interviewed, among others, methamphetamine users, surfers and drifters. They've also checked out a lot of unexplained suicides, Thompson said.

People reported seeing a strange man on the North Coast around the time of the slayings, driving a pickup with a trailer that had the words, "God loves me," spray painted on it. He told people he didn't have long to live. Landry said some of his customers reported that the man had guns in his truck.

Landry said detectives told him the man had been interviewed.

Landry said detectives also were especially interested in whether he knew of any surfers who frequent Fish Head Beach. He told them the area is better known as a place to watch sunsets.

"I never even knew where this was until it happened," said Nick Marlow, 30, who owns Northern Lights Surf Shop in Bodega Bay.

Marlow's shop was a focus of media attention in the days after the discovery of the bodies because he said the couple had stopped in his store.

What wasn't publicly known until now was that the couple stopped there after visiting Landry's shop. Just as they did there, the couple asked Marlow for a recommendation. He said he was too busy to spend much time with them.

A year later, Marlow said he's still shaken by the killings, to the extent that he recently purchased his first firearm.

"I think I would feel safe camping out on this coast," he said. "I have a dog. But my girlfriend and I are not about to camp out there (at Fish Head Beach). We'd camp up north, maybe, but I probably would have a little protection on me."

As for his friend, Landry, coming under suspicion, Marlow said, "I couldn't see a detective really thinking that they're bringing in the guy when they're bringing in Bruce. No way could I imagine that."

Gaps in itinerary

Where the couple may have gone besides the two surf shops remains unclear. Investigators say they don't know where they stayed Friday after leaving the white-water camp, but they suspect the couple camped out on their way to the Bay Area.

Based on witness statements, receipts and photographs taken by the couple, investigators are sure they stopped at Pier 39 in San Francisco the following morning, before heading out across the Golden Gate Bridge toward Sonoma County.

Where they went after arriving in Jenner is disputed. Landry said detectives told him the couple followed his advice to stop at the Jenner Inn and inquire about a room, which is supported by a manager who said she saw the couple come in.

Publicly, however, detectives have said they don't believe the couple tried to rent a room. Investigators also have debunked other reported sightings, including at the River's End on Sunday.

"We don't think they ever woke up Sunday morning," Thompson said.

Similar cases

Investigators also have checked possible links with other double homicides. Of these, the July 1 shooting deaths of two Oregon campers seemed to offer the most tantalizing connection.

The bodies of Steven Haugen, 54, and Jeanette Bauman, 56, were found at an undesignated camping area three miles up a paved Forest Service road about 70 miles southeast of Eugene. Haugen's dog, Caesar, also was killed, but investigators haven't specified how he died.

Investigators said a license plate was taken from the couple's vehicle. They've released few other details of the case, however, saying scant evidence was found at the scene.

Thompson said he and another detective drove to Oregon shortly after the slayings and met with Lane County sheriff's detectives to compare notes. He said the cases are similar in some ways and not in others.

The Oregon killer used two weapons, for instance. Neither was a .45 caliber Marlin rifle, Thompson said, which authorities say was used to kill Cutshall and Allen.

"I went up to Oregon thinking this could be something and came back thinking probably not," he said.

Such is the wave of emotion detectives have ridden since the very first days of the baffling case.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs, when you get a tip and head up that roller coaster, and then you come crashing down," Thompson said. "I'm not too old or salty not to take those rides."

"As bizarre as this case is," he added, "I think we're one phone call away from this being solved."

Monday, August 15, 2005

You will never be forgotten...

Jason and Lindsay will always be on our hearts and minds as we live out our remaining days on earth. Today is the one-year mark since the day that they died. They will forever be my inspiration... reminding me that my one and only goal in life should be to live for Jesus! Jesus was the passion of their lives... and I'm sure He still is to this day. I count myself blessed to know Jesus... because without Him, I would not be able to handle this grief. There is an incredible amount of peace that I have because of my faith... and that is what carries all of us through.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." --Proverbs 3:5

Here is an article from one of our local newspapers from today:

A year later, beach slayings haunt families, police...

Monday, August 15, 2005

By Nate Reens | The Grand Rapids Press

ZEELAND -- The photo of a warm California sunset is a cold, daily reminder that a killer remains at large.

Hanging in the dining room of Robert and Delores Allen's house, the image captures a time two families -- the Allens in Zeeland and Chris and Kathy Cutshall in Fresno, Ohio -- would rather forget.

Yet, the glowing sun dropping into the Pacific Ocean horizon creates a bond stronger than family ties.

Their children, Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall, planned to marry on Sept. 11, 2004. Instead, the couple were gunned down in their sleep as they lay on Driftwood Beach in Jenner, Calif. The double murder haunts the couple's families, investigators and the town of nearly 800 that prides itself on a quiet way of life. Authorities last month made a fresh push to unearth leads and suspects.

A camera recovered by police next to the couple's bodies provides the sunset snapshot, likely taken the night they were killed.

And if Allen, 26, and Cutshall, 22, spent their final hours living as they did before the deaths, family members can take solace that they died happy, enjoying nature's serenity.

"That degree of evil is hard to comprehend," Delores Allen, Jason Allen's mother, said of the killer. "But God took them when they were at a spiritual peak, and that's comforting to us."

One year after Allen and Cutshall were reported missing and found shot with a rare .45-caliber Marlin rifle as they camped along a rocky coastline about 80 miles north of San Francisco, their parents will spend several days together at a rented cottage in northern Michigan.

Both families, devoutly religious, will share their pain, their memories of better times and their hopes that the killer will be brought to justice, if not on Earth then on a day of reckoning.

"Their deaths have brought us together like nothing else can," said Cutshall's father, the Rev. Chris Cutshall. "If they had married, we'd celebrate together. But now, we lean on each other, and we all lean on the Lord. It's really the only way we can make it after experiencing the depths of sorrow we have.

"It seems very random and very senseless, and we desire justice to be served, but we're not on the edge of our seats. There's not a reason to fret about it. We let it rest in the Lord's sovereign care."

The Cutshalls and the Allens realize their desires have no impact on the investigation, believing it will be solved in time.

Sonoma County sheriff's detectives are not as placid about the probe, recently assigning a team of six investigators to dig through every tip and angle in the case, Lt. Dave Edmunds said.

Edmunds would not say whether the full-court press revealed any new information.

"We've combed completely over this one, looking for that one good lead we need," Edmunds said.

"It's a difficult case, and we all know the numbers of solvability as a function of time go down the longer you go, but we're continuing our efforts and keeping our energy going."

Police compared notes with authorities in Arizona and Oregon, hoping to find connections to unexplained murders of campers in their states. They looked at a drifter who harbored anger toward those with strong religious convictions.

Police ruled out links to the homicides in other states and moved beyond the drifter after he surrendered to investigators and passed a lie-detector test.

National attention

The mysterious murders struck a nerve across the country as the national media picked up the story, fueled by two dead young people seemingly without foes.

Multiple press conferences, held to pass along credible information and rebut rumors and idle speculation, gave reporters the opportunity to explore the lives of the Christian camp counselors, who pledged to dedicate their lives to help young people find their calling.

Delores Allen said her family was caught off-guard by the publicity. They did not expect it to take hold and continue for a year, she said.

"Here we are, ordinary, common people, but the way this happened, it caught the attention of so many."

Delores Allen noted she, her husband and the Cutshalls granted interviews to keep people thinking about the crime.

The families said police continued to probe the theory that the couple were killed for their religious beliefs.

"In the world we live in, we know that's a possibility," Delores Allen said. "They weren't afraid to show their faith, but they were gentle about it, tried to share the joy they received from the Lord."

An 'aggravating' case

Authorities are confident the person or people -- Edmunds would not say if police suspect Allen and Cutshall were shot by one or more suspects -- will be arrested.

"This case is so aggravating, but it's really difficult for the person responsible not to leave a trail," Edmunds said. "Somebody's sitting on something, and we'll find it."

The couple's parents, who visited each other at several times since their children were killed, have been to California twice, the first time when police were searching for the pair and again on Father's Day.

During that trip, they led a memorial service at the camp where Allen and Cutshall worked. They also visited with Sonoma detectives.

They did not visit the beach where their children died. Neither family commits to making that trip.

"I'm interested ... but I didn't feel compelled," Chris Cutshall said. "I'm not sure any of us are ready for that. Emotionally, we're a long way from doing that."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Learning to cope...

Well, exactly one year ago today, Jason and Lindsay were enjoying their last day together here on earth. Little did they know that in mere hours, they would die at the hands of a killer... and enter into God's Kingdom for eternity.

Their untimely and cruel manner of death is a harsh scenario to grasp... even though I know it is a reality. I am thankful, however, that their deaths were instantaneous... because anything else would be more than I could bear. I am thankful, as well, that they didn't see it coming... I believe that is by God's grace. One minute, Jason and Lindsay said "goodnight" to each other and fell asleep under the stars... and the next thing they knew, they were entering heaven! That is a sweetness that brings so much hope.

I spent this day last year visiting with friends of mine who traveled several hours to attend my sister's wedding the night before. Since I hadn't seen them in a long time, we laughed and talked and enjoyed each other's company. I had no idea of the chaotic and emotionally tumultuous week that would soon follow. My life has changed completely in the past year. Nothing will ever be the same... but I am actually grateful for that. God has really shaken some Truth into my life that I was ignorant to prior to the weekend of August 14 last year. I knew, full well, the gift of Salvation that I had received when I became a Christian at a young age... but I didn't really know what it meant to live for Christ with a passion. I lived a good life, made good choices, and volunteered for things in my community that I felt were worthwhile, but I was missing something. I was not living with the awareness that each day is a precious gift and that we need to live like each day is our last. I was not making an effort to live outside of my comfort zone for Christ... I was living "comfortably" and never really pushed the envelope. I have been made much more aware, in this past year, that there is so much more to life than just living a comfortable little cozy Christian life. We, as Christians, are the hands and feet of Christ and we need to go out there and make a difference! What will you be able to say on the Day of Judgment when Christ asks you what you've done with your life? Were you faithful? Were you fruitful? What have you done with your life that will make a difference for ETERNITY? That's what it comes down to... we need to live our lives with a passion for Christ! We need to heed the words of martyr Jim Elliot... "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Furthermore, the words of missionary Charles Thomas Studd also ring true, "Only one life, it'll soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last."


There is a really good article in our local paper, marking the one-year "anniversary" of the weekend, last year, during which Jason and Lindsay died:

Seeking sense in senseless killings...

Year has gone by since couple shot on beach; families coping...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

By RICHARD HARROLD | Staff writer

Hanging on a dining room wall in Bob and Delores Allen's home is a framed photo of a beach sunset that was retrieved from their son's camera.

Beneath the photo is an embroidered inscription authored by their son, Jason Allen, sometime before he and his fiancee, Lindsay Cutshall, fell asleep for the last time on an isolated northern California beach.

Jason wrote it in a log book found at the beach near Jenner, Calif., where the couple was shot to death last year.

"As I stir this Mac & Cheese I think to myself what a wonderful life," reads the inscription. "I've just spent two awesome days with my fiance Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it. Jason from MI. Aug. 14 04."

Jason and Lindsay were murdered one year ago today, each shot in the head while they slept in separate sleeping bags on a lonely stretch of sand called Fish Head Beach, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Police are still looking for the killer, who likely used either a Marlin semi-automatic or a Marlin lever action .45-caliber rifle. A $50,000 reward has been offered through the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Looking at the beach sunset photograph in her Holland Township dining room, Delores Allen said she and her husband believe Jason took it the same evening he and Lindsay were killed. When asked if she has any desire to visit that spot, she shakes her head.

"Not at this time," she said. "There may come a time when I'll change my mind, but not now."

For both the Allens and the Cutshalls, it's been a rough year.

"Some days I weep all day off and on," Delores Allen said.

"It is just absolutely senseless that someone would kill our kids who had no enemies," said Lindsay's father, Chris Cutshall. Her parents live in Coshocton County in Ohio, about an hour south of Akron. Their home is along a state highway near Fresno, a town of about 200 residents, "the type of town people often like to say 'counting the dogs and cats,'" Chris Cutshall said.

Lindsay's mother, Kathy Cutshall, admits at times she wonders about the killer -- who he is and why he did it. But she comes back to an important part of her faith -- that life on Earth doesn't mean everything is OK all the time.

"But it is in Heaven," she said. "God will take care of this person, and I'm so glad that I don't have to.

"I believe he will be caught."

Their faith in a sovereign God is what the Cutshalls and the Allens credit with keeping them from dwelling in the darkness of anger and bitterness.

Jason's mother said she tries to avoid thinking about the killer and why he did it.

"It's beyond our comprehension who would be this evil," she said. "For some reason, God has allowed this to happen. We believe completely in the sovereignty of God. If it's not solved here in this world, we know it will be solved in the next."

The parents find strength in each other, which has led to a close friendship. They knew they would be friends as in-laws after Jason and Lindsay were married, but as they came to know each other through the bond of their shared grief, they found support and empathy with each other.

The couples will spend the weekend together in a Michigan cabin, helping each other through the first anniversary of the slayings.

"You can take some of the bite out of it," Bob Allen said.

The Allens and Cutshalls have also decided that they aren't going to bother investigators in California, although they have remained in close contact.

The Allens said it was comforting to see, while they were in California in June, many of the investigators had photographs of Jason and Lindsay tacked up in their cubicles.

"It was encouraging to us to see how they've taken this case to heart, because this case is different," Delores Allen said.

A full-time team of six detectives is devoted to the case, putting in overtime to investigate, said Lt. Dave Edmonds of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.

"The level of tragedy isn't lost on anybody here," Edmonds said. "You have to press and make your own breaks."

Bob & Delores Allen
Click for larger view: Bob and Delores Allen talk about their recent trip to the camp where Jason and Lindsay worked last summer. [Sentinel/Dennis R.J. Geppert]

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Remembering their lives...

I found an awesome article today about Jason and Lindsay's story... it amazes me that it has been a year already. So much has changed though... nothing will ever be the same. Not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened to Jason and Lindsay... they are a constant reminder to me of what I need to strive for in living out my faith.

Read the latest article featured in the Sacramento Bee:

A trail of love...

A year ago, two Christian camp counselors were found slain on a lonely beach. Today, all that's certain is their devotion to each other and their faith.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

By Jennifer Garza -- Bee Staff Writer

A year ago Sunday, they saw their last sunset. Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall were camping on a Sonoma County beach when they stopped to take in the view. That's when they pulled out her camera to photograph the moment that captured everything good about their lives. Lindsay stood on a beach with her fiancé and contemplated nature, God, goodness and love. She described how she felt in her journal - in the last entry she would make.

"The sun is going down in the horizon and all I see is the beams shining on the cliff face and I know that God is awesome. I look around and I see His creation all around me."

Lindsay and Jason had spent the summer working as counselors at a Christian adventure camp in Coloma, about 35 miles east of Sacramento. There they led rafting trips down the American River by day and Bible discussions at night. The two were exhausted but happy; the experience had brought them closer to each other and deeper in their faith. They were to be married in four weeks.

On this day, they had come to this beach in the town of Jenner to be alone, and it was perfect.

It's easy to picture the couple as they pulled into the parking lot in their red Ford Tempo that afternoon. To see them climb down to the beach, hauling their backpacks and their sleeping bags and their sack of groceries. To hear the sounds of the waves as they set up camp for the night and their laughter as they talked about the future, their future.

Jason was a few feet away from his fiancée. He was making dinner - macaroni and cheese, probably adding a little Tabasco sauce, their only purchase at a nearby market earlier that afternoon. Jason also wrote in his journal.

"As I stir this Mac & Cheese I think to myself what a wonderful life. I've just spent two awesome days with my fiancée, Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it with. How precious is that!"

Later that night, after enjoying the sunset and their simple meal, they fell asleep side by side in separate sleeping bags under the stars. They never woke up.

They were shot in the head while they slept.

Their bodies were found four days later. Beachgoers told detectives that they remembered seeing the couple but thought they were sleeping. The two were not sexually assaulted and were not robbed. Jason had cash in his wallet, and Lindsay, who had worked previous summers at a jewelry store back home in Ohio, was still wearing a diamond necklace and her engagement ring.

They were discovered by a helicopter crew rescuing a stranded hiker nearby. The pilot saw the couple there side by side on the beach, zipped up in their sleeping bags, and noticed they didn't move when he flew overhead.

Among their personal belongings, detectives found their Bibles, their journals, wedding literature and the camera. Lindsay's picture of the sunset was the last photo taken.

And that's the last thing detectives know for sure about that night.

Many questions

What happened to those two young campers on the beach? Were they stalked and killed? Or were they simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or, as Lindsay's mother believes, were they killed for their religious beliefs?

One year later, theories abound, but the case remains unsolved. The cold-blooded killings of the two young religious workers have shaken their families, local residents and fellow campers. The deaths haunt the community.

"A lot of locals don't use that beach since the murders," says Lt. David Edmonds of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, who is heading up the investigation. Edmonds says finding the killer is a priority for the department. They have spent thousands of hours tracking leads and recently assigned more detectives to the case.

"We have leads, but at this point we really need someone to come forward with some information. Someone out there knows something," he says.

Edmonds is reluctant to discuss details of the case but says the two were killed by either a Marlin .45-caliber semiautomatic or lever-action rifle.

"It would have been over fast," he says. The blasts would have been loud, but the sound was probably drowned out by the ocean. It is also a remote beach; the closest resident is about a quarter-mile away.

Detectives do not know for sure how the couple found Fish Head Beach. It is not a legal camping site but is well-known by locals. The two had asked several people in the area for a safe place to camp, and presumably someone told them about the isolated stretch on the coast.

Detectives have heard all the theories about what may have happened to the couple that night. Some believe they may have witnessed a crime, or the killer may have thought the two had seen something illegal. Others believe they were followed.

Kathy Cutshall, Lindsay's mother, thinks the couple may have been killed for their religious beliefs.

"That's my mother's gut talking," she says. "Maybe they ran into someone who didn't like Christians."

Edmonds has heard the theories but has no answers. "From what I can understand, they were very open," says Edmonds, referring to Jason and Lindsay. "Everything I've learned about them is that they were two nice, faith-affirming young adults."

Foundation of faith

To understand what brought Jason and Lindsay to the beach that day, one first has to understand the value they placed on their religious beliefs.

They were devout Christians who wanted to start a camping ministry. They slept on the beach in separate sleeping bags - instead of sharing a motel room - because "sharing a motel room would have been immoral," says Chris Cutshall, Lindsay's father. "They loved being outside."

Their religion and their love for the outdoors had been important to both of them nearly all their lives.

Jason, 26, from Zeeland, Mich., was the oldest of three children who were raised doing two things - going to church and heading for the outdoors. Jason was a sensitive child. His mother says when he was about 5 years old, she found him crying. "How can I be sure I'll go to heaven?" he asked her. She told him there was one way, and soon Jason accepted Christ.

Later, he attended Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia, where he combined his two loves and majored in the Bible and camping ministry. Tall and thin, he was strong from years of rafting and climbing. He wore his long, wavy hair in a ponytail. He was an outdoorsman with a heart for Jesus, says his father, Bob Allen.

After college, Jason worked as a guide and a counselor at several camps throughout the country. He didn't make a lot of money, but he didn't need it, either - the joke in his family was that he made $5,000 the previous year but saved $4,000. Jason lived most of the year in a tent. "He said it made him feel closer to God," says his mother.

Jason once told his parents that he didn't think he'd ever marry because he didn't think he'd find someone willing to accept his lifestyle.

Then he met Lindsay. She was a foot shorter than Jason but more than his match. Soft-spoken and petite, she was the younger of two daughters of a pastor and his wife from Fresno, Ohio. Lindsay, 22, accepted Jesus when she was a child and was active in her church. She also loved the outdoors and spent summers camping with her family.

The two hit it off immediately. Six weeks later, Jason asked Lindsay's father for her hand in marriage. It was not easy. Jason, who had a habit of talking loudly when he was stressed, blurted out, "I am so nervous!" and went to the kitchen for a glass of water.

Taken by surprise, the pastor didn't say no but didn't say yes either. It was more along the lines of, "Come back later." Jason did. The two became officially engaged on Valentine's Day 2004. Though the Cutshall family liked Jason, they weren't sure about his lifestyle.

"I said, 'Are you sure you want to live in a tent?' " recalls Lindsay's sister, Kerry, smiling at the memory. "She said she was sure."

In June, Jason and Lindsay headed for Coloma to work as camp counselors at Rock-n-Water, a Christian adventure camp. "We knew right away that Jason had a lot of experience and Lindsay was a sweetheart," says Craig Lomax, manager of the camp. "They were excellent at their jobs. They were both at the extreme level."

The couple didn't want their relationship to be a distraction and didn't tell any of their fellow counselors they were engaged. Many didn't know until near the end of the season in August.

The two stood out that summer - Jason for his rafting experience and Lindsay for her willingness to talk and pray with campers late into the night. But the summer had been hard on her. Lindsay was homesick and longed for a bath. "I can't wait to go home and get this dirt off me," she told her mother on the phone two weeks before she died. Lindsay was planning to go home the following week to finish up last-minute wedding details.

In one of her last conversations with her mother, Lindsay said she wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge before she came home.

So, on the last Friday night of camp, Jason and Lindsay packed up her red 1992 Ford Tempo and headed to the Bay Area for the weekend. They didn't tell anyone where they were going, but they were in a good mood when they left.

From photos and store receipts, detectives know the two made it to San Francisco.

In one picture, Jason is holding the camera in front of their faces. The Golden Gate Bridge is in the background. The two are looking at the camera and laughing hard, the wind blowing their hair.

It is the last photo of Jason and Lindsay alive, leaving their family haunted by what-ifs.


Jason and Lindsay's legacy: They have inspired their communities and their families, who have grown deeper in their faith. Detectives say they are determined to find the killer, for the families' sake.

Beautiful last picture taken by Lindsay on that beach.
This ocean scene was the last shot on the roll of film found in Lindsay's camera. [Courtesy of the Allen and Cutshall families.]

Lt. Dave Edmonds
Lt. David Edmonds of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department is heading the investigation into the fatal shootings of Lindsay and Jason. "We have leads, but at this point we really need someone to come forward with some information," Edmonds says. "Someone out there knows something." [Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench]

Jason & Lindsay in front of the Golden Gate bridge.
Jason and Lindsay photographed themselves near the Golden Gate Bridge hours before their deaths. This was the last picture taken of them alive; the Cutshall family used the image in their Christmas cards. [Courtesy of the Allen and Cutshall families.]

Friday, August 12, 2005

Approaching 1 year...

This Monday, August 15, marks the one year "anniversary" of the day that Jason and Lindsay were killed. Last night, a local news station, WXMI Fox 17, featured a segment on the case and interviews with Jason's parents, Bob and Delores.

Although it was short (because it was part of a regular news hour), I thought it was well done. I believe that any and every opportunity we have to share this story is another opportunity for ministry. I will post more as more articles come about. There are a few more in the works that I am aware of.

God bless! Please keep the Allen's and the Cutshall's in your prayers... especially during this upcoming week that will, undoubtedly, be very emotionally exhausting.

  • Link to news story

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