(CNN) - Closure may come to two families in Colorado as authorities announced they had charged a man with killing four people more than 30 years ago.
At a joint news conference Friday in Aurora, law enforcement officials said they issued arrest warrants for Alexander Christopher Ewing, 57, whose DNA linked him to the cold cases, authorities said. Ewing is in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections on separate charges.
The gruesome killings began on Jan. 10, 1984, when Patricia Smith was found dead in her home in Lakewood, about a 7-mile drive from Denver, authorities said. Six days later, on Jan. 16, Bruce Bennett was found dead with his wife, Debra, and their 7-year-old daughter. The couple's 3-year-old daughter was severely injured, but survived. Both children, police said, had been sexually assaulted.
While investigators saw similarities between the killings from the start, the release said technology was limited. The investigations remained open, authorities said, but they were considered cold cases for over 30 years.
"This case haunted our detectives that responded that night," Aurora Police Chief Nicholas Metz said Friday. "It was a case that haunted the families and the victims to the core."
Then in 2010, a DNA link was established between the two cases, the release said. However, it wasn't until July, when Nevada prison officials entered Ewing's DNA into a database, that the Colorado Investigation Bureau discovered the genetic profile of the DNA matched Ewing, according to CNN affiliate KMGH. The charges against Ewing include three counts of first-degree murder, felony murder, attempted first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree sexual assault.
Randy McCoy, a friend of the Bennett family, told CNN affiliate KCNC he wanted to be present during Friday's press conference.
"I just wanted to hear it," he said between tears. "Hear that they had found the guy. Not just on the news or something, I wanted to be here to hear it."
The extradition process to return Ewing to Colorado from Nevada has begun, authorities said Friday. Colorado authorities said they'd ask the governors of both Colorado and Nevada to have Ewing extradited, KMGH reports.
According to the Nevada Department of Corrections, Ewing has been in prison in Nevada on charges ranging from aggravated escape to burglary to attempted murder. The charges span from the mid-1980s to 2013. He had been serving time since the summer of 1984 when he escaped the custody of two Arizona sheriff's deputies while being transported from Utah for a court appearance on attempted murder and burglary charges, according to KCNC.
During his escape, KCNC reported that Ewing entered an unlocked home and beat a woman and her husband with an ax handle.
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