Two Christian camp counsellors found dead on California beach

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Two soon-to-be-married Christian camp counsellors reported missing earlier this week were shot to death in their sleeping bags on a remote beach, authorities said.

The bodies of Lindsay Cutshall, 23, and Jason Allen, 26, were discovered Wednesday when deputies rescuing a stranded hiker spotted the crime scene from their helicopter.

“They were shot in the head, presumably in their sleep,” Sheriff’s Lieut. Dave Edmonds said. “It appears to be a terrible crime absent of motive, which is a concern to us.”

There were no signs of sexual assault or robbery, and the possibility of a murder-suicide was ruled out because no weapon was found, authorities said. The bodies were found fully clothed, side by side in sleeping bags near their belongings, which included a Christian book, wedding literature, camping gear and backpacks, police said.

“From all indications, the victims were very upstanding citizens, they were very honourable people. They had an absolute absence of enemies,” Edmonds said.

Police believe the couple arrived last Saturday in the area, about 95 kilometres north of San Francisco, and apparently were camping overnight on Fish Head Beach in Sonoma County.

Cutshall and Allen were missionaries who were spending the summer as whitewater rafting guides at Rock-N-Water, a Christian adventure camp in Coloma, in the Sierra foothills about 65 kilometres east of Sacramento. They were supposed to return to the camp Sunday; they were reported missing Monday.

“Jason and Lindsay were two incredible people that loved God, His creations, and loved to share them with youth,” camp leaders said in a statement.

Authorities said the bodies appeared to have been on the beach for more than 24 hours. Authorities were performing autopsies Friday.

Cutshall’s father has been the pastor of the evangelical Fresno Bible Church in Fresno, Ohio, for nearly 20 years and had planned to preside over their marriage ceremony next month. Cutshall was supposed to return to Fresno on Sunday to help prepare for the wedding to Allen, who was from Michigan.

Cutshall’s parents released a statement saying, “They are a gift of God that will forever bless our lives.”

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