JENNER, Calif. – A business owner here has told detectives investigating the mysterious murders of two camp counselors on a remote oceanside beach that he saw the couple more than 24 hours after they failed to show up for work at a Christian youth camp.
Bert Rangel, who owns the River's End restaurant and lodge in Jenner, told the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday that he's certain he saw the couple between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. last Monday, when they stopped to ask if there were any cabins available.
Lindsay Cutshall (search), 23, of Fresno, Ohio, and Jason Allen (search), 26, of Zeeland, Mich., were reported missing last Monday after they failed to show up at a youth camp, where they were working as whitewater rafting guides for the summer.
The couple was supposed to return to Rock-n-Water (search), a Christian adventure camp in the Sierra foothills about 40 miles east of Sacramento, by 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 15, to prepare for the arrival of campers.
When they didn't show up the following morning, the camp reported them missing and their parents flew to California.
Their bodies were discovered Wednesday on Fish Head Beach (search), just a few miles north of Jenner, days after they were reported missing. Police have not identified any suspects, and no arrests have been made.
Autopsies showed the victims, who were found in their sleeping bags, had been shot through the head at close range. Authorities have ruled out a murder-suicide because no murder weapon was found, and there was no evidence of robbery or sexual assault.
Rangel said he told detectives about seeing the couple Monday, and was surprised to hear that the couple had been considered missing when they visited the lodge.
"It was Monday night and they didn't look like they were in any hurry to call," Rangel said. "There are pay phones throughout town. They could have used my phone."
Asked about the sighting, Lt. Dave Edmonds of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said, "A lot of things at first blush can sound curious and then make sense later."
Cutshall's father, Chris Cutshall, said he knew something was wrong when his daughter and her fiance failed to show up for work for a weekly Sunday night meeting.
"It was a huge red flag," Cutshall told the Chronicle. "They had a strong work ethic. They did not miss work, period."
Deputies were going door-to-door along the coast around Jenner and fielding phone tips Sunday. More than two dozen detectives, along with other staffers and volunteers, were pursuing many of the more than 150 tips from the public. They were also putting together a timeline of the couple's movements up to the time of their deaths.
Edmonds said the sheriff's department has been in contact with Arizona authorities who are investigating an Oct. 19 double homicide that's similar to the California case.
In that unsolved case, Brandon Rumbaugh, 20, and Lisa Gurrieri, 19, both of Scottsdale, Ariz., were each shot in the head while in their sleeping bags on the bed of a pickup truck at a campsite outside a ghost town about 60 miles north of Scottsdale.
"We've spoken with Arizona officials and compared notes," Edmonds said. "On its face there's similarities, but some significant differences too ... We haven't ruled out any connection, but we're not actively pursuing it either."
Fresno, Ohio, is 70 miles northest of Columbus in Coshocton County.
Cutshall and Allen met at Appalachian Bible College (search) in Bradley, W.Va., where Allen graduated in 2001 and Cutshall graduated in 2003.
The couple had been engaged about two years and planned to spend their honeymoon camping in West Virginia on the Gauley River, one of the nation's wildest whitewater rivers.
They also had planned to move to West Virginia for the fall river season.