Alex Ewing, 61, was sentenced in Colorado on Tuesday to three consecutive life sentences for the brutal murder of three members of the Bennett family with a hammer back in 1984.
Ewing was found guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder, felony murder, attempted murder, sexual assault, sexual assault on a child and burglary. The case, which went cold and took over 37 years to convict, resulted in the death of 27-year-old Bruce Bennett, his wife Debra, and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa Bennett. Prosecutors alleged that Melissa was also raped during the attack.
Vanessa Bennett Shultz, now 41 years old, was only 3 at the time, but she is the only member of the Bennett family to survive, despite being beaten in the head with a hammer along with the rest of her family.
Ewing was also charged with the murder of Patricia Louise Smith, 50, who was beaten to death with a hammer in Lakewood, Co., a week before the Bennett family murder in Aurora.
“Over a 12-day span, you inflicted an unspeakable orgy of violence,” Vahle told Ewing. “Your actions… are an abomination.”
Since 1984, when his killing spree took place, Alex Ewing has been incarcerated in Nevada state prison. He allegedly escaped while being transferred from Kingman, Az. to St. George, Ut., where court records detail that he had, “severely beat a woman and her husband with an ax handle in their bedroom near Henderson, Nevada.”
In 2002, 18 years after the murder, two Colorado Bureau of Investigation inspectors linked DNA found at two of the three crime scenes, but it wasn’t until 2018 when Alex Ewing’s DNA was finally added to the Nevada prison’s database that a match was found.
The statue of limitations for most of Ewing’s crimes prevent prosecutors from trying him further, but the courts have put together a list of similar attacks in the Colorado area around the same time as the Bennett family murder that they believe to have been performed by Alex Ewing as well.
“I’m sure my parents and sister were great people, but it’s unfortunate I don’t remember anything about them,” Vanessa Bennett Schulz said. “I didn’t just lose my parents and sister, I lost my trust in people.”
Alex Ewing was reportedly silent throughout the entire hearing.
“I hate what I have to go through and what I still go through,” Schultz said during the verdict reading. “I hope that he goes away forever.”
Bruce Bennett’s 87-year-old mother, Connie Bennett, spoke as well, asking the judge to make sure Alex Ewing got the maximum sentence for his crimes. She had testified during the trial that she was the one who discovered their bodies, after the couple was reported absent from work.
“Some people may call him an animal,” Connie Bennett said of Ewing, but I won’t because I think animals have a purpose in this world.”
Donna Holm, a flight attendant who was also brutally attacked and sexually assaulted by Alex Ewing, is one of the victims for which the statute of limitations is too far in the past to see him tried. Despite this, Holm has put the tragedy behind her.
“He did that to my body, but not my soul,” Donna told 9News. She attended the final hearing as well, and described Ewing as a “feeble old man.” She now lives happily with her husband Ron of 37 years.