By Rick Sallinger

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– The horror that took place in an Aurora home 34 years ago had gone without a glimmer of justice– until now.

Three of the four members of the Bruce Bennett family were murdered with a claw hammer. Only 3-year-old Vanessa survived.

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

Three decades later police were able to announce that modern DNA science had been used to resolve an old cold case.

“When I was told the results of DNA testing it sent a jolt through my spine,” said Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz on Friday.

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(credit: CBS)

With detectives who had worked on the case over the years standing behind him, Metz explained how the break in the case came.

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(credit: CBS)

He said DNA recovered at the crime scene was put into law enforcement data bases and then last month matched to Alexander Christopher Ewing, a man who was already a prisoner in Nevada.

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Alexander Christopher Ewing (credit: Aurora Police)

Randy McCoy, a Bennett family friend, was present for Friday’s announcement.

“I just wanted to hear it not just on the news or somewhere, to be here,” he cried.

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Randy McCoy (credit: CBS)

The suspect’s history goes back to Colorado. Ewing left the state shortly after a string of hammer attacks. He told police he left because of the cold.

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Alexander Christopher Ewing (credit: Aurora Police)

It was January of 1984 when Bruce Bennet’s mother Connie discovered the victims in the house. Now she says she is relieved.

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(credit: CBS)

She told CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger, “It’s just been devastating, but a person has to go on living and do what they do.”

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(credit: CBS)

Ewing also faces charges for the 1984 Lakewood murder of Patricia Smith who was also beaten to death with a hammer in her home.

The investigation included an artist’s conception of what the killer might look like now. That was compared to the mug shot of the suspect.

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Alexander Christopher Ewing (credit: Aurora Police)

Ewing is expected to face extradition to Colorado where he will be tried in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties. Authorities are already considering this a possible death penalty case.

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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