CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — The mother of a man who was beaten with a hammer and killed along with his wife and one of his two daughters in their suburban Denver home nearly 40 years ago says she found his bloody body inside next to the kitchen.
Connie Bennett testified Tuesday at the start of the murder trial of Alex Christopher Ewing, a former Nevada prison inmate charged in their deaths.
In 2018, Ewing was linked through DNA evidence to the January 1984 killings of Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa in Aurora.
The couple’s younger daughter, 3-year-old Vanessa, was also beaten but survived.
Ewing’s lawyer says other evidence points to multiple people being involved and people other than Ewing being responsible.
A suspect wasn't immediately identified after the murders in 1984. There were no witnesses who could provide a description of the suspect or suspects. In 2017, she told Denver7 she still visits the family's graves.
"I still like to come here often and visit them," she said at the time, sitting down beside the tombstone that bears three names, all with the same date of death. "It was January 16, 1984. Worst day of my life. They called it the 'Hammer Murders' at the time."
He was identified as a suspect in 2018 through DNA evidence.
In 2018, arrest warrants were issued for Ewing out of Colorado for the murders. He was currently in prison in Nevada serving time for an attempted murder and burglary, where he was convicted of using an ax handle to attack a couple in their bedroom outside of Las Vegas.
According to court records, the warrants carried 18 total counts: three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation; three counts of felony murder; one count of attempted first-degree murder after deliberation; two counts of aggravated sex assault; one count of assault with a deadly weapon; two counts of sex assault on a child; one count of first-degree burglary with a weapon; three sentence enhancers for a violent crime causing death; and two sentence enhancers for a violent crime involving a weapon.
Around the time the warrants were issued, Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director John Camper said that investigators had previously, in 2002, matched DNA profiles taken in the Bennett murders and matched it to DNA profiles collected at the scene of the murder of Patricia Smith in Lakewood, who was killed six days before the family's murder.
Camper said that Nevada prison officials entered Ewing’s DNA into a database in early July and that CBI discovered the match the next day.
Ewing was extradited to Colorado in the spring of 2020. Jury selection began on Friday.