Police in Lakewood and Aurora have identified a suspect they believe is responsible for multiple murders more than 34 years ago.
In a joint news conference Aug. 10, Lakewood and Aurora police announced that Alex Christopher Ewing, 57, is the primary suspect in the deaths of 50-year old Patricia Louise Smith, in Lakewood on Jan. 10, 1984, and Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa, on Jan. 16 of that same year in Aurora. The Bennetts' then 3-year-old daughter Vanessa survived the attack, but she was left with life-threatening injuries.
Ewing, who is currently serving an eight- to 40-year sentence in Nevada, is accused of using a hammer to kill Smith and a different hammer to kill the Bennetts. He was originally convicted for an unrelated attempted murder and use of a deadly weapon in Arizona, and is eligible for parole on July 1, 2021.
Colorado law officials have charged Ewing with three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, three counts of felony murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree sexual assault, first-degree assault, two counts sexual assault on a child, one count of first-degree burglary and five violent crime accounts.
"To all family members and loved ones to victims who have gone through the tragedy of experiencing a murder that we say has turned cold, the work proves that these individuals are not forgotten. The cold-case victims and their families are not forgotten," Jefferson County District Attorney Pete Weir said.
DNA evidence tested in 2010 revealed that the same person who killed Smith also killed the Bennetts, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that law officials say they were able to connect Ewing to the murders.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director John Camper said Nevada uploaded Ewing's DNA to the FBI's national data base. CBI found a match between Ewing and the Lakewood and Aurora murders, Camper said, and quickly informed Aurora police Chief Nick Metz of its finding.
“We still took this case incredibly serious, and we were going to continue to move forward every way that we could. (The DNA results) sent a chill through my spine,” Mentz said at the press conference in Aurora.
Smith was sexually assaulted, and her killer left the hammer at the scene. Officers believe that she went to a fast-food restaurant, and then returned to her Lakewood condo that she shared with her daughter and grandchildren before she was killed.
Bruce Bennett's mother went to his and Debra's home, because she was curious why the couple didn't show up for work at a family-owned business. She found the couple and Melissa, dead.
Randy McCoy, a childhood friend of Bruce, attended the press conference because he wanted to hear in person who was being charged for Bruce's death, rather than seeing it on TV, or reading about it in the paper. He followed the Bennetts' case closely and collected every news article he could about the case.
“I don't believe anyone with something like this ever has closure. They maybe can get where they feel better knowing that the person will go away forever. As long as you're missing loved ones, I don't feel relieved,” McCoy said.
Weir and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler filed paperwork to Gov. John Hickenlooper to begin the extradition process to bring Ewing to Colorado. Brauchler said there is potential that Ewing could face the death penalty.
“We never forgot this case, even 34 years later. It's challenging, it's difficult, but we don't forget theses cases,” Lakewood Police Chief Daniel McCasky said.
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