Break in 1984 Colorado Hammer Murders

Alexander Christopher Ewing 1984 Colorado Hammer MurdersAlexander Christopher Ewing (57) is accused of using a hammer to kill Bruce, Debra, and Melissa Bennett  and Patricia Smith.

He faces charges for six counts of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of sexual assault on a child, burglary and five counts of committing a violent crime for the January 1984 killings of Bruce and Debra Bennett and their daughter Melissa.

Ewing also faces charges for four counts of first-degree murder in the Patricia Louise Smith killing. These murders are known as the 1984 Colorado Hammer Murders.

Ewing became a suspect in the Colorado cases largely thanks to a 2013 Nevada law that required DNA tests on inmates convicted of felonies. It wasn’t until 2016, however, that Nevada’s attorney general issued an opinion saying the law also required the retroactive testing of current inmates. 

Ewing is currently serving a prison sentence in Nevada for beating a sleeping couple with an ax handle in 1984. He is eligible for parole in that case on July 1, 2021. His sentence expires on April 10, 2037.”

Suspect image 1984 Colorado Hammer MurdersBased on the DNA, Parabon used phenotyping to make a sketch of what the suspect can look like.

Keep in mind that phenotyping can only tell within a certain percentage of confidence what characteristics a person may have such hair color, eye color, skin tone, the shape of the face, ancestry, or freckling. These confidence statements give police a visual of what the DNA bearer most likely looked like.

Phenotyping images are “scientific approximations” – and are not exact replicas of the person’s appearance. Notable disparities can be created by environmental factors outside of the genetics, including drug use and drinking, smoking, weight gain, facial scars, and facial hair.

Others are concerned about the private companies that use DNA phenotyping. Their software and methods are usually not published in scientific journals and are thus not open to peer review.

Another concern is racial profiling. Determining ancestry is very complicated and environmental effects can have a great or sometimes even greater impact on people’s features. Despite all these issues, phenotyping is advancing cold case investigations.

Now in the cases of the Bennett Family and Patricia Smith we know the DNA carrier. I posted the image based on phenotyping and you can see his picture above as well. What do you think? Is there a likeness? As soon as there is more information about these cases I will post an update.

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  1. […] This technique can show us approximately what the DNA bearer looks like and it can be age-progressed. This too is used now in many cold cases and with success. The latest was the case of the 1984 Colorado Hammer Murders. […]