Inside the disturbing mind of Jenner beach killer Shaun Gallon
In a phone call from jail in 2004, Shaun Michael Gallon asked his father to get rid of his guns.
The bodies of a young Midwestern couple had been found a week earlier, gunned down in sleeping bags where they camped at a secluded beach near Jenner on the Sonoma Coast. More than a decade later, Gallon would admit he carried a flashlight down a bluff to the sand, saw the couple was asleep and went back to his car for the gun.
“That’s when I snapped. I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m just going to start killing people,’” Gallon told Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives in 2017 during a series of confessions.
When he was arrested on an unrelated weapons charge six days after detectives started looking for the killer, Gallon had already burned the sandals he wore the night he shot them, according to the files.
But he hadn’t disposed of his guns. So his father did it for him.
Suspect for 13 years
These details were released in a report prepared by the Sonoma County Probation Department, a revelatory account of the disturbing activities and mindset of Gallon. Through interviews with Gallon, reports from psychologists and details from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation, the document provides the most comprehensive history yet of Gallon’s life, how his family shielded him from arrest and the way he explained his crimes to law enforcement in confessions.
It would take 13 years before detectives publicly named Gallon as the gunman, though he had been arrested a half-dozen times for various crimes and was long known in the Russian River community as a troubled and isolated man with a reputation for odd behavior and poaching animals.
Last month, Gallon admitted guilt in Sonoma County Superior Court in the killings of Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and Jason Allen, 26, in 2004 on the Sonoma Coast beach, the 2017 shooting death of his brother Shamus Gallon at their family’s home in Forestville and a 2004 bombing that maimed a woman in Monte Rio.
The reasons Gallon gave to detectives for the killings and bombing are both detailed and detached, lacking compassion for the people he hurt. Probation officials concluded Gallon was a narcissist without remorse, noting “the vulnerability of his victims” and stating they “were nothing more than prey to the defendant.”
Gallon told detectives he was tormented by “voices and demons,” and had been drinking heavily the night of the murders.
His crimes went unsolved for more than a decade, though people in his life either knew or strongly suspected he was responsible for killing Cutshall and Allen. The engaged pair were strangers to Gallon, Midwesterners visiting a secluded Sonoma Coast beach on a break from their work as Christian camp counselors in the Sierra Nevada.
A family friend repeatedly discussed her suspicions with sheriff’s investigators in 2005 and ensuing years, telling them Gallon killed animals - harpooning a seal on the coast and shooting a calf - and had asked his father to get rid of his guns. Sonoma County animal control investigated reports Gallon killed his brother’s dog by hanging, according to the filing.
The mother of his second child - he has two, now in their teens, who live out of state - later threatened Gallon in a private Facebook message to turn him in for the killings and collect the $50,000 reward, according to the report. The report doesn’t specify when the message was sent.
David Gallon admitted to investigators he got rid of his son’s guns after that phone call from jail “because he feared Gallon was not stable,” according to the filing.
So detectives found no firearms when they searched Gallon’s Russian River area apartment in August 2004 for evidence in the Jenner beach killings.
Father lied to detectives
Gallon quickly became a suspect after deputies encountered him near a beach in Guerneville a week after the killings, wearing a camouflage jumpsuit with a loaded, stolen gun in his pocket.
Detectives searching his apartment found a 5-gallon tub filled with matchsticks, bullets, foot-long sections of lead pipe, fuse cords for explosives, clumps of hair, “copious amounts of blood” in a bathroom and dead animals, including a large shark cut into pieces in the refrigerator and a wild turkey in a trash can, the documents state.
They also found Gallon, released on bail, had shaved off his beard and dyed his hair. When asked by detectives, Gallon denied involvement in the Jenner beach murders. He initially agreed to take a polygraph test, but later declined, according to the files.
Detectives confronted David Gallon, who told them he tossed his son’s guns in a pond known locally as “Korbel hole” in the area. A dive team searched the pond waters but found nothing. David Gallon later said he had lied and the guns weren’t there, according to the report.