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Guides’ murders remain mysteries

By: Penne Usher Journal Correspondent
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On Friday it will be five years since two El Dorado County river-rafting guides were brutally murdered while they slept on a beach. Their families had hoped that DNA evidence might finger the killer. But DNA from Joseph Henry Burgess, 62, who was killed July 16 in a shootout with police in New Mexico, did not match the sample collected from the guides’ crime scene. Burgess was a “person of interest” in the murder of Jason Allen, then 26, of Michigan and Lindsay Cutshall, then 22, of Ohio. The engaged couple were found shot to death Aug. 15, 2004 while they slept on a stretch of Sonoma County coastline. “The DNA is not a match, but we weren’t too surprised,” Lindsay’s mother, Kathy Cutshall, said Tuesday. “It was a long shot. The DNA found (at the murder scene) could have belonged to anyone who had been on the beach.” The couple, who at the time worked for Rock-N-Water in El Dorado County as rafting guides, were found dead, each from a single gunshot wound to the head. The scene indicated that an unknown assailant shot both victims, Sonoma County officials have said. There was no indication of a struggle. Burgess was wanted for the 1972 slaying of a couple along a Canadian beach. That crime bears striking similarities to the Allen and Cutshall murders. Capt. Matt McCaffrey, of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, said law enforcement officials looked at similar cases and came across a 37-year-old case out of Canada. “There were a lot of similarities in the two cases,” he said. In 1972 Ann Barbara Durrant, 20, and Leif Bertil Carlsson, 19, were found shot to death in their sleeping bag on a Vancouver Island beach. Fingerprints left on a Bible at the murder scene reportedly belonged to Burgess, who hadn’t been seen or heard from since. That is until a sting operation in the Jemez Mountains was put into place to catch a burglar. Burgess was killed, along with an officer in the July shootout. The Allen and Cutshall families now may never know who took the lives of their children, but the investigation will continue if new leads develop. “The most difficult thing to deal with was the loss of Lindsay and Jason,” Kathy Cutshall said. “The only way we can survive is to leave (the killer’s fate) in God’s hands. Someday he will meet his maker.