It’s a troubling statistic, but over one-third of the murders committed in the United States go unsolved. There are reasons for this of course, chief among them too few police officers and too many people. But in this day and age, it seems inconceivable that our talented detectives and CSIs can’t find out “whodunit.”
The story of two young people, found dead on a beach in California was one that captured the nation’s attention when it first hit the airwaves. The trail went cold soon after and for 13 years, the victims’ families languished in doubt and uncertainty. Until very recently that is…
The sheriff’s helicopter had been dispatched that day in order to rescue a man who was allegedly stranded on a cliff above Fish Head Beach. As the pilot and rescue personnel surveyed the land below them, they noticed something peculiar on the beach: two crimson-stained bodies in sleeping bags.
Who and Why
The helicopter notified the department and continued searching for the man. When the police arrived on Fish Head Beach, they found a young couple, dead in their sleeping bags. Their names were Lindsey and Jason, they were 22 and 26 respectively, and perhaps most tragic of all, they were engaged to be married…
Homicide detectives from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department jumped into action. The potential murder, or even murder-suicide of a couple of lovers was not going to stay out of the papers for long. Thankfully, their initial investigation eliminated the suicide theory. Now they were looking for a murderer.
Only Lives Were Taken
Detectives confirmed that whoever had killed Lindsey and Jason, they hadn’t stolen any of their belongings. With robbery ruled out and no evidence of any sexual assault, the police decided to take a step back and learn everything they could about the poor engaged couple who’d met their untimely end on that California beach…
The couple had met in 2002 while Lindsey, who was originally from California, was attending Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia. Joined by a natural attraction and a mutual love of God, Jason and Lindsey hit it off almost immediately. Within a mere six weeks of that first meeting, the two were engaged.
Road Trippin’ Counselors
At the time of their deaths, both Lindsey Cutshall and Jason Allen were working as counselors at Rock-N-Water, a Christian summer camp located in El Dorado County, California. They had left the camp to take a little romantic road trip the day before they were killed and had even gone into San Francisco to eat in Fisherman’s Wharf prior to heading to Fish Head Beach…
That Saturday, they stopped at a local motel and restaurant called River’s End to grab a bite and find some rest. Unfortunately, the motel had no rooms to rent so they had to find another place to sleep for the night. Motel staff told them of a nearby beach, less than a mile away, where one could camp out if one were so inclined. It was illegal to do so of course, but it was only one night.
Death by Drifter
The police knew that drifters and hitchhikers were known to have stayed at beaches along State Route 1 as a campsite before, therefore it was easy to imagine that Jason and Lindsey might have been killed by a drifter. Based on the type of murder weapon the killer had used, it seemed likely that it could have been a drifter using it…
Weapon of Choice
The weapon used to kill the young lovers was a .45-caliber Marlin Model 1894 long rifle. It’s an uncommon gun that is generally considered too high a caliber for most ranchers to use, so it might have been wielded by someone who wasn’t from around there. It’s also a gun that uses hand-loaded ammo and though they didn’t find any casings, they presumed the killer took them when he left.
In July of that year, a 62-year-old drifter named Joseph Henry Burgess was killed in a shoot-out. He had been living in the remote Jemez Mountains of New Mexico at the time of his death. Detectives on the case had originally thought him to be a suspect but the postmortem DNA sample they retrieved did not match the one left they found at the crime scene. They were back to square one…
After that, the case remained unsolved…for a time anyway. In an effort to try and elicit the public’s help in finding the couple’s killer, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s department offered a $50,000 reward for any information that proved useful. It wasn’t until thirteen years later that new information on the case finally came to light.
On May 5, 2017, Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas came out to hold a press conference. They revealed, after reading a statement thanking all law enforcement officials for their help on the case over the years, that they had finally identified Lindsey Cutshall and Jason Allen’s killer. His name was Shaun Gallon, he was 38, lived in Forestville, and had just killed his own brother…
Gallon had previously been arrested in connection with the shooting death of his brother Shamus. The two brothers had been at their mother’s home in Forestville when they had quarreled and that was where he was arrested. The police had dismissed Gallon early on in the investigation for lack of evidence, but he was always on the radar.
Gallon, by the very nature of his personality, was always a person of interest in the killing. It wasn’t until they brought him in for his brother’s murder that they decided to ask him some questions about the tragic end of two young people on a Sonoma beach. Gallon, it seemed he knew quite a bit about that particular subject…
During the course of his interrogation, Gallon made many statements to the detectives about the Fish Head Beach murders. He had information that the police had never released to the public: information no one but the killer could have known about. Detectives were dispatched to locate the evidence he’d mentioned and soon, his statements were completely corroborated.
History of Offense
Shaun Gallon’s past is riddled with misdeeds. His record contains the likes of resisting arrest, weapons possession, theft, drunk driving, and though fairly innocuous, hunting without paperwork. He was also found guilty of attempted murder with a package bomb and has a conviction for wounding a man with an arrow…
When asked about why Gallon killed the couple however, he could offer no real reason. He didn’t take anything from them, didn’t sexually assault either of them: he just killed them as they slept. He didn’t even know them. So what would have caused such a man as Shaun Gallon to just up and kill two innocent people?
On May 17, 2018, Gallon was officially charged with the murders of Lindsey Cutshall and Jason Allen. Though his motives and connections to the deceased remain unknown, he still faces a potentially life-ending sentence if he’s convicted. If they find him guilty, he faces the death penalty or at the very least, life in prison without parole. As for Lindsey and Jason’s surviving relatives…
Bob and Delores Allen and Chris and Kathy Cutshall came forward with a thankful message for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office saying: “We are extremely pleased that our children’s murderer is in custody where he belongs…We would like to thank the heartfelt concern of the people of Jenner and Sonoma County. We have appreciated your support for this case throughout our thirteen-year ordeal.”
Don’t Lose Hope
They added that even at their lowest point, the detectives on the case kept their hope for justice alive. Afterwards, they thanked God for helping them to push through their shared grief together. Meanwhile, if I were Shaun Gallon, I’d be making peace with that God about now. His fate is by no means sealed just yet, but it will be before long.