A Forestville man with a violent criminal history and extensive knowledge of the Sonoma Coast was named the lone suspect Friday in the 2004 slayings of a young Midwestern couple on a beach near Jenner, marking an extraordinary turn in one of the Bay Area’s most mysterious and unsettling crimes.
Shaun Michael Gallon, 38, shot and killed Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and her fiance, Jason Allen, 26, as the couple lay in sleeping bags on the remote beach 13 years ago, Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas said at a morning news conference.
Gallon, who had been interviewed by detectives early on in the case and later served time in prison, has been held in Sonoma County Jail since late March on suspicion of killing his younger brother in their home. After his arrest, he provided detectives with information about the slayings of Cutshall and Allen that “no other person could have known,” Freitas said.
“We have located evidence corroborating his statements,” Freitas said. “We are confident we have Jason and Lindsay’s killer.”
Gallon was a stranger to the couple and had no apparent motive, authorities said.
“There doesn’t appear to be a struggle leading up to the shooting — no fighting, no indication of robbery or sexual motive. So all we have is a random act of violence,” said Sgt. Spencer Crum, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
The announcement re-opened a notorious Sonoma County cold case in chilling fashion, juxtaposing a jailhouse photo of Gallon with images of the smiling couple overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge shortly before they were killed. The wrenching crime, coming at the end of the couple’s summer stint as Christian camp counselors in the Sierra Nevada foothills, pitched two deeply religious families from Ohio and Michigan into a prolonged nightmare and stamped an iconic stretch of the coast with a deep sense of loss and insecurity.
Detectives for years searched far and wide for the killer, but in the end, say they found their man in a familiar place. Gallon, who was 25 at the time of the Jenner slayings, grew up and went to high school in Forestville. His extensive criminal history made him well-known to authorities even before he went to prison in 2010 after shooting an arrow into an occupied car in Guerneville, sparking an intense manhunt that unnerved the town for days.
Speaking by phone Friday from the Ohio church where he serves as pastor, Chris Cutshall, Lindsay’s father, said sheriff’s officials called him several days ago to relay they had new evidence pointing to Gallon in the slayings. He said it confirmed his long-held suspicions that Gallon was the killer. Cutshall said he and his wife, Kathy, have been hit with a wave of emotions, from sadness to relief.
“We’ve believed that all along, that it was random and senseless,” Cutshall said.
His daughter and Allen were visiting the North Coast on their final weekend in California in August 2004 before returning home to be married.
Gallon was a person of interest early in the investigation after residents reported he “might be a person capable of doing that,” Crum said Friday.
“He was definitely on our radar from early on,” said Crum.