Nevada inmate linked to 1984 hammer killing of cold cases in Colorado

Alexander Christopher Ewing, 57, was linked to the 1984 killing of three members of the family and a woman.


A Nevada inmate who was convicted for attacking a couple with an axe handle is now linked to the 1984 death of four people who were beaten with a hammer in two separate attacks in a suburb of Denver, authorities said.

Alexander Christopher Ewing, 57, was identified as the suspect in the death of Patricia Smith — killed on Jan. 10, 1984, and Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa, who were found dead on Jan. 16, 1984, police announced on Friday. Ewing, who has a criminal history that dates back to 1979, is serving a 70-year sentence in the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Ewing was linked to the cold cases for more than 30 years later, after DNA evidence tied the condemned the killings.

“Make no mistake, the DNA is what brings us here today,” district attorney George Brauchler said, according to the Denver Post.


Ewing was sentenced for the attacks of a few with an axe handle in their bedroom is charged with killing four people with a hammer in a suburb of Denver more than 30 years ago.


In 1984, Smith was eating lunch, when she was beaten with a hammer and raped in her apartment in Lakewood, Colorado. A hammer was located in the residence. Detectives at the time saved the carpet under Smith’s body and collected hairs and fibers from the samples on the scene. Swabs from the attacker’s semen left on Smith was also recorded and stored.

Six days later, the Bennetts were attacked in their home in Aurora in a similar style. Melissa and her 3-year-old sister, Vanessa, were beaten with a hammer and raped. Vanessa, now 38, survived the attack and had several operations and physiotherapy.

Detectives work in this case, collected from the girls’ comforter and also the carpet where Melissa’s body was left behind. They took samples of Melissa’s body to collect the killer’s semen, the Denver Post reported.

In 2001, the researchers began getting more of a grip on the cases in which the first set of DNA-proof of the comforter and Bennett carpet sample were uploaded to an FBI database. A year later, prosecutors filed charges against a John Doe defendant in the Bennett murder.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation developed a DNA profile in the Smith killing that matched the Bennett case in 2010. And in July, under a 2013 state law that allows DNA sampling of inmates, Nevada authorities swabbed the inside of the Ewing’s cheek and entered the results into the national database. A routine search of databases showed a possible DNA match to Ewing.

The news “sent a shiver through my spine,” said John Camper, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.


Prosecutors are asked Ewing to be extradited to Colorado, where he could face the death penalty. The inmate has been in prison since 1984 after he escaped the police will be transported in Kingman, Arizona. He came into a house and seriously beat a woman and her husband. The police arrested Ewing two days later.

Ewing was interviewed by the Colorado researchers last week after the DNA match in the 1984 crime scenes. When Ewing was a photo of Smith on the murder scene, “he jumped back in his chair and stared at the documents state.

“Alex Ewing seemed shocked, and when confronted about his DNA found at the scene of the murder, he said, ‘There’s got to be a mistake,’ and provided no explanation of how his DNA may have been on the scene,” Detective Clayton Fuller wrote in an arrest affidavit in the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter via @bykatherinelam

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular