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Mystery Continues for Christian Counselors Murdered in Sleeping Bag

Photo: Lindsay Cutshall and Jason Allen were murdered in their sleeping bag.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (CBS/AP) When police killed Joseph Henry Burgess in a shootout last month in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, they thought the answer to a string of murder mysteries might be at hand.

First on their list was a young couple working at a Christian summer camp who were murdered in their sleeping bag in 2004 on a beach in northern California.

Burgess, a religious zealot who disapproved of relationships between unmarried couples, was a "person of interest" when Jason Allen, 26, and his fiancée, Lindsay Cutshall, 22,turned up dead five years ago on Jenner Beach.

But soon Burgess slipped into the wilderness and disappeared. When he turned up on the wrong end of a shootout July 16, police thought they might be able to finally connect him with the murders of Cutshall and Allen as well as another murdered couple with strikingly similar details.

Sonoma County sheriff's officials traveled to New Mexico to test his DNA. It didn't match DNA left at the 2004 crime scene, but police say Burgess remains a person of interest in the killings.

Burgess, a nomad who slipped in and out of contact with society for decades, is also a suspect in a string of mysterious murders stretching back thirty years, one of which has disturbingly similar details to the Jenner Beach murder.

(AP Photo/New Mexico State Police)
Joseph Henry Burgess, 62, in undated surveillance photo provided by New Mexico State Police.

In 1972, a Canadian couple, Ann Durrant, 20, and Lief Karlsson, 21, were shot multiple times in the head at point-blank range as they lay in their sleeping bag on Vancouver Island. Both couples were shot in the head. Both couples were camping on isolated beaches. Both couples were unwed, which apparently offended Burgess' beliefs.

Until the deadly shootout two weeks ago, Burgess' nomadic lifestyle had kept his whereabouts a mystery. He is believed to have spent the past decade burglarizing cabins in New Mexico's Jemez Mountains, where he was nicknamed the "Cookie Bandit" for allegedly stealing food, boots and other goods. Deputies conducting a stakeout in hopes of catching the "bandit" were confronted by Burgess, leading to a gun battle that left him dead.

State police say Sgt. Joe Harris and Deputy Theresa Moriarty were in a cabin when Burgess came through a window. Burgess was handcuffed after a scuffle, but authorities say he managed to pull the gun from the small of his back and shoot Harris. Harris, despite being wounded, shot and killed Burgess.

(AP/Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
The bodies of Lindsay Cutshall, 23, of Ohio, and Jason Allen, 26, of Michigan, were discovered about three miles north of Jenner Calif.

The .357 revolver Burgess used in the fight was registered to David Eley, a man whose remains were identified this week by the FBI. Eley was reported missing in April 2006 on a camping trip in the Jemez Mountains. The FBI said Sunday dental records were used to identify the remains found Friday and Saturday.

July 29, 2009 - Young Lovers Murdered in Sleeping Bags – DNA Hopes to Find a Killer