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.

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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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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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.

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.

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.

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

(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.

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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