Police in Aurora, Colorado, have issued arrests warrants for Alexander Christopher Ewing, due to a possible DNA link to the 1984 murder of four people, according to CNN.
The 57-year-old is currently in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections on unrelated charges.
The killings started on January 10, 1984. Patricia Smith was found murdered in her Lakewood, Colorado, home. On January 16, Bruce Bennett and his wife, Debra, and their 7-year-old daughter were also found murdered. The slain couple also had a 3-year-old daughter who had been injured, but survived. Both children had been sexually assaulted, according to police, per CNN. All were murdered by a hammer.
At the time, detectives thought the murders were related, but they were unable to find a link due to the limited technology available at the time.
“This case haunted our detectives that responded night,” Aurora Police Chief Nicholas Metz said Friday according to CNN. “It was a case that haunted the families and the victims to the core.”
According to Denver 7 News, a DNA link between the cases was found in 2002 by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. According to CBI Director John Camper, Nevada prison officials entered Ewing’s DNA into a database in July, which led to the DNA match.
Ewing has been in Nevada custody since the summer of 1984. He escaped in Henderson, Nevada, while he was being transported from St. George, Utah, to Kingman, Arizona, for a court appearance. During his escape, he entered a home and beat a couple with an axe handle while their sons were asleep in a nearby room. Ewing was arrested two days later.
Under his current sentence, he would be eligible for parole in 2021.
The 1984 murders followed other attacks that involved a hammer, according to CBS 4 Denver. On January 4, 1984, an Aurora couple were awakened by a man in their bedroom. He hit each of them with the hammer and then fled. A few days later, a flight attendant was beaten in her garage, possibly with a hammer. All survived.
Ewing is being charged with a total of 18 counts, including three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of felony murder. Colorado authorities are asking the governors of Colorado and Nevada to extradite Ewing to Colorado, a process that could take months, according to Denver 7 News.
The break in the cold case was announced at a press conference on Friday. Randy McCoy, a Bennett family friend, told CBS 4 Denver that he needed to be at the conference to hear the news in person.
“I just wanted to hear it,” he said. “Hear that they had found the guy. Not just on the news or something; I wanted to be here to hear it.”