Authorities say they are unable to link a dead fugitive to the 2004 slayings of a couple on a beach near Jenner, dashing hopes of solving a case that continues to baffle investigators and torment the victims? families.
A DNA sample taken from Joseph Henry Burgess and a bullet found among his possessions do not match evidence gathered by investigators in the Jenner case, the Sonoma County Sheriff?s Department said Friday.
While that doesn?t rule out the 62-year-old Burgess as a person of interest in the case, the findings also fail to establish that he had anything to do with the beach slayings.
?It?s frustrating, but that?s the business we are in,? Sonoma County Sheriff?s Capt. Matt McCaffrey said Friday.
Burgess, who was wanted in connection with the 1972 slayings of a young couple on a beach in Canada, was killed July 16 in a gun battle with New Mexico sheriff?s deputies that left a deputy dead.
Sonoma County detectives traveled to New Mexico last week searching for evidence that might have implicated Burgess in the Jenner case.
Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and her fiance, 26-year-old Jason Allen, were found shot to death on Aug. 18, 2004. The couple were camped out on Fish Head Beach on what was supposed to be their final weekend in California before returning home to Ohio and marrying.
The case bears strong resemblance to the 1972 slayings of Ann Durrant, a 20-year-old Canadian, and Leif Carlsson, 19, an exchange student from Sweden, who were camping on a remote beach near Tofino, on West Vancouver Island.
Police said that after the couple went to sleep, Burgess, who was then 25 and a Vietnam-era draft dodger, snuck out from the bushes and shot each one in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.
Burgess, who was described by police as a religious fanatic, did not approve of pre-marital sex and had told a witness that the young couple?s behavior bothered him.
Cutshall and Allen had taken vows of chastity and were in separate sleeping bags when they were shot. But like Durrant and Carlsson, the couple was open about their Christian beliefs, beliefs that in theory could have made them targets to someone such as Burgess.
But no one knew the New Jersey-born man was even alive before his deadly encounter two weeks ago with two New Mexico sheriff?s deputies who were conducting a surveillance operation to nab a thief dubbed ?The Cookie Bandit.?
The intruder had been breaking into cabins in New Mexico?s Jemez mountains for a decade and stealing food and other items. On this particular morning, he chose to enter the cabin where the deputies were staked out, leading to an intense fight.
Despite being handcuffed, Burgess managed to reach a .357-revolver tucked in his waistband behind his back and start firing. Both he and Sgt. Joe Harris of the Sandoval County Sheriff?s Department died in the ensuing gun battle.
Authorities later determined that Burgess? gun was registered to another man who was reported missing in 2007 after he failed to return from a camping trip in the Jemez mountains.
Sonoma County detectives took DNA samples from Burgess to compare with DNA found in saliva that was on a beer bottle recovered from the Jenner beach.
Normally, such tests can take weeks or months. But the California Department of Justice made it a priority, underscoring interest in the case and hopes that it might finally be solved.