By Rick Sallinger

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– There may be a break in one of the biggest crimes ever in the Denver metro area. Bruce, Debra and Melissa Bennett were killed in their Aurora home in 1984.

Bruce and Debra Bennett with their two daughters (credit: CBS)

Bruce and Debra Bennett with their two daughters (credit: CBS)

It was one of several hammer attack cases at the time. Now DNA analysis has led to a potential suspect.

One attack victim told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger that victims and family members of several crimes met at the Aurora Police Department headquarters recently to be told of the development. They were told they had a “possible suspect” but more testing had to be done.

(credit: CBS)

She said the contact from authorities has brought back, “Very old scary memories.”

Aurora Police Detective Steve Conner has never given up. He was at the scene 34 years ago and it has stayed with him through the years.

Aurora Police Detective Steve Conner (credit: CBS)

In 2016 he told CBS4, “This case has never really been put on the shelf completely, someone has always been poking at it… probably because it was such a horrific case.”

There were other hammer attacks around the same time. On Jan. 4, 1984, James and Kimberly Haubenschild were attacked; on Jan. 9, flight attendant Donna Dixon; the next day 50-year-old Patricia Smith was killed with a hammer at her home in Lakewood. A week later, the Bennett family murders occurred.

(credit: CBS)

DNA was recovered from crime scenes has been compared to match it to a suspect. In 2016, Aurora police released pictures of what they believe the killer may have looked like then and now.

(credit: CBS)

“With this they have background on the case and now they can put some kind of face to the person we’re looking for,” Conner said at the time.

CBS4 spoke with Vanessa Bennett 10 years after the murders, “Every time somebody asks me what happened to my face… that’s every time I think about it, which is almost every day. I tell them I got hit with a hammer and that’s it.”

(credit: CBS)

Vanessa’s Grandmother Constance Bennett discovered the bodies that horrible day. She has always hoped the case would be solved.

In 2010 she told CBS4, “It would be good to see somebody brought to justice.”

Constance Bennett (credit: CBS)

A news conference about the latest developments is planned for Friday at 10 a.m. at the Aurora Police Department.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.


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