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Judge sentences 1984 Aurora 'hammer killer' to multiple life sentences

Alex Ewing faces the possibility of parole after 20 years because of when the crime occurred
Posted at 4:41 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 23:31:17-04

DENVER — A judge sentenced the man convicted of killing three members of an Aurora family with a hammer in January 1984 to life in prison Tuesday.

On Aug. 6, a jury found Alex Ewing, 60, guilty on all counts, which included first-degree murder, felony murder, attempted murder, sexual assault, sexual assault on a child and burglary.

He was sentenced to life for each murder charge, which will be served consecutively. People found guilty of first-degree murder face an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for crimes committed more recently, but Ewing faces the possibility of parole after 20 years because of when the crime occurred, the district attorney said.

Ewing was convicted for killing Bruce Bennett, 27, and Debra Bennett, 26, as well as their 7-year-old daughter Melissa, in Aurora. The couple’s other daughter, Vanessa, who was 3 at the time, was also beaten but survived with permanent injuries. Prosecutors alleged Ewing raped Melissa Bennett before killing her.

Vanessa Schultz spoke during the sentencing, saying that she has lost "so much happiness" in her life after the murder of her family and her long-term impacts.

"I didn’t just lose my parents and sister, I lost trust in people. I lost my dignity and my pride. I lost the person who I was supposed to bee. I lost my sanity. I look in the mirror every day at myself and I hate who I am. I hate what I have to go through and what I still go through," Schultz said. "I hope that he goes away forever."

Ewing was also linked to the murder of Patricia Smith in Lakewood six days before the Bennetts were murdered, as well as to the attack of Donna Holm in Aurora, who survived her injuries.

The case originally went cold for decades.

In 2002, Colorado Bureau of Investigation investigators linked the DNA found at two of the three crime scenes. But it wasn’t until July 2018 that CBI investigators would discover a match just one day after Nevada prison officials put Ewing’s DNA into a database.

Ewing was in prison in Nevada on attempted murder and burglary charges at the time the match was discovered. Warrants were issued for Ewing in 2018, and though he fought extradition to Colorado, the Nevada Supreme Court ultimately denied his motion in February 2020. He was extradited soon after.

Ewing still faces first-degree murder charges for the murder of Smith, and he is due in court in that case in mid-September. A trial is slated to start Oct. 18.