JENNER, Calif. — A self-identified California survivalist was sentenced Monday to three consecutive life sentences, without the possibility of parole, in the murders of a couple sleeping on a beach in 2004, as well as the 2017 murder of his own brother.
Shaun Michael Gallon, 40, pleaded no contest last month to the murders of Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and Jason Allen, 26, who were shot to death between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16, 2004, as they slept on Fish Head Beach near Jenner in Sonoma County.
The case remained unsolved until 2017, when Gallon was accused of using a rifle to kill his younger brother, 36-year-old Shamus Gallon, in the Forestville home they shared with their mother.
Following his arrest, Shaun Gallon confessed to the Allen-Cutshall homicides. He pleaded no contest June 13 to all three killings.
"In exchange for his pleas to all charges, (Sonoma County) District Attorney Jill Ravitch agreed to not seek the death penalty," a news release from her office read.
Shaun Gallon, who was 38 at the time of his brother's slaying, was caught a short time after the shooting at a nearby gas station, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
At the time, Sonoma County officials said there was no apparent motive for Gallon to shoot his brother.
"There doesn't appear to be an altercation of any significance that led to the shooting," Sgt. Spencer Crum told the Press Democrat.
Even prior to his brother's slaying, Shaun Gallon's name had long been on law enforcement's radar. The San Francisco Chronicle reported he was well-known for his erratic behavior, and his rap sheet was a long one.
He was convicted in 2009 of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting an arrow at a man in Guerneville, the Chronicle reported.
His Facebook page shows multiple photos of homemade bows and arrows, as well as a photo of hiself with a spear he made.
"Further, Gallon was also alleged to have attempted to kill a Monte Rio man in June 2004 by using a disguised homemade explosive device, and seriously injuring a second unintended victim when it detonated," a news release from the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office read.
Gallon was charged in 2017 with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, as well as possession of an illegal assault rifle, the district attorney said.
The charges to which Gallon pleaded no contest are lengthy, court records show.
"There were multiple special allegations and enhancements alleged against Gallon, including that he murdered multiple victims, that he committed great bodily injury on those victims, that he used a firearm to inflict great bodily injury on each of his murder victims and that he had suffered a prior 'strike' conviction in 2009 for assault with a deadly weapon," Ravitch's news release said. "In his change of pleas, Gallon admitted all charges and enhancements."
Gallon waived all rights of appeal by entering into the plea agreement. Ravitch said the agreement was reached after a review of the records, a review of mitigating material offered by the defense and talks with the victims’ families, as well as the surviving victims of Gallon’s prior crimes.
"Notwithstanding the heinous nature of the crimes, and the number of victims who fell prey to this defendant, it was necessary to weigh the evidence, the burden carried by the surviving family members, and the impact on the public safety of the community in accepting this disposition," Ravitch said in a statement. "We hope those directly impacted by this violence and those who have grieved over the loss of life will find solace in the finality of this disposition."
‘What a wonderful life’
Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall, natives of Michigan and Ohio who met at a Bible college in West Virginia and soon became engaged, were in California the summer of 2004 to work as river guides for Rock-N-Water, a Christian outdoor adventure camp in Coloma.
According to Chronicle reports at the time, the couple apparently decided to go on a weekend adventure after their guide work ended, taking a few days on the California coast before they planned to return home to get married. Receipts and other information gathered by detectives showed they visited San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, where they bought some cheap souvenirs.
Photos recovered from their camera shows they took photos of one another in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the newspaper reported.
They then headed north in Cutshall’s red 1992 Ford Tempo for the Sonoma coast, where they found themselves in Jenner, a village Allen had visited a few years earlier. Several witnesses, some conflicting, reported seeing the couple along the way as they stopped for gas and other items.
A front desk clerk at the Jenner Inn told police the couple showed up there either Friday, Aug. 13, or the following night. Though the couple ate at the inn, there were no available rooms, so they said they would camp outdoors instead, the Chronicle said.
The manager, who declined to give her name, said she chatted with the couple again the following morning when they came in for breakfast.
"I asked them if they were having fun," the woman told the newspaper. "They said they stopped in San Francisco. They were just a happy couple trying to get away for the weekend."
Various accounts indicate Allen and Cutshall were told Fish Head Beach would be a good spot to camp, even though it was illegal to sleep on the beach there.
Police believe it was the night of Aug. 14, 2004, when the couple parked Cutshall's Tempo in a pullout along nearby Highway 1 before setting up their gear on the beach. According to Sonoma magazine, both made notations in a visitor's log kept near the beach.
"As I stir this mac and cheese, I think to myself, 'What a wonderful life,'" Allen wrote. "I've just spent two awesome days with my fiancée, Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it."
"The sun is going down in the horizon," Cutshall wrote, according to the magazine. "All I see is the beams shining on the cliff face. And I know that God is awesome. I look around and I see his creation all around me."
Authorities believe the couple was killed, each by a single rifle shot to the head, that night or early the following morning as they slept in their sleeping bags, their Bible nearby.
Family and friends grew concerned when the couple had not turned up back at the Christian camp by Sunday. According to the Chronicle, Lindsay was due to fly home a week later to begin planning her wedding.
A missing person report was filed Monday, Aug. 16, by friends at the camp.
The couple's bodies were found two days later, first spotted by deputies in a Sonoma County Sheriff's Department helicopter sent up to search for a man stuck on a cliff near Jenner, the Chronicle reported.
Instead, the spotters saw two bodies in bloodstained sleeping bags.
With no apparent motive -- there were no signs of robbery or sexual assault at the scene -- detectives were stymied for years.
It would take another 13 years before investigators learned what happened or why.
‘I went crazy’
A Sonoma County Probation Department report, obtained by the Press Democrat, paints a disturbing portrait of Gallon's life and shows ways in which his family shielded him from arrest before he killed his brother.
Gallon’s father, David Gallon, admitted to police he got rid of his son’s guns in 2004, a week after Allen and Cutshall were found slain. Shaun Gallon, who had been arrested on unrelated weapons charges, called his father and asked him to dispose of the weapons.
David Gallon told investigators he did so "because he feared (Shaun) Gallon was unstable," the document says.
The records show Shaun Gallon became a potential suspect in the double homicide on the beach after deputies found him near a beach in Guerneville with a loaded, stolen gun in the pocket of his camouflage jumpsuit.
Investigators who searched his apartment at that time found a 5-gallon container filled with bullets, matchsticks, foot-long sections of pipe and fuse cords, the Press Democrat reported. They also found clumps of hair, "copious amounts of blood" and dead animals, including a shark cut up into pieces in a refrigerator, the report says.
Shaun Gallon was questioned in connection with the killings of Allen and Cutshall, but he denied involvement, the newspaper reported. He initially agreed to take a polygraph exam but later refused.
The court report states Gallon told family members, girlfriends and police investigators he was never the same after taking a strong dose of LSD in 2001, at the age of 21.
"One day, this guy comes up and gives us a bottle of acid and then … everything, like … exploded," the report quotes him saying. "I went crazy."
A psychological assessment of Gallon indicated the bad LSD trip likely coincided with his already developing mental illness. Following his 2017 arrest in his brother’s slaying, psychiatrists described Gallon as paranoid. They diagnosed him as having a schizotypal personality disorder, which includes paranoia, antisocial behavior and sometimes, psychosis, the Press Democrat reported.
The probation report indicates Gallon was partially homeschooled and that the family isolated itself from others.
In 2004, however, David Gallon sought help for Shaun because he was concerned the then-25-year-old would harm his brother, Shamus.
The young men’s mother, Susan Gallon, would not allow the social worker inside their home, the report says.
The social worker met with Shaun Gallon elsewhere to offer help, and she noted Gallon was “bizarre” and had poor hygiene and living conditions.
David Gallon killed himself in 2013, the Press Democrat reported.
According to the court report, prior to his death, he confronted his son with a flier seeking information on the weapon that killed Allen and Cutshall.
Shaun Gallon later admitted that while he did not confess the crime to his father, he believed his father’s suspicions were a factor in his suicide.
"I'm sure it didn't help," Gallon told detectives, according to the report. "It might have been directly why he did it."
‘I was going to kill them out of spite’
The probation report, along with details that came up during Shaun Gallon's sentencing, goes into chilling detail of his reasons for killing. He told detectives Allen and Cutshall brought their deaths upon themselves for sleeping on a stretch of beach despite a sign barring camping in the area.
The Chronicle reported that Chief Deputy District Attorney Spencer Brady told the court Gallon was driving around, "upset at his own life," on the night of the murders. Gallon told investigators he spotted Allen and Cutshall, whom he thought were homeless drifters, going down an embankment toward the beach.
He drove on but returned to the spot later.
Scaling a 200-foot cliff with a flashlight, Gallon found Allen and Cutshall asleep in their sleeping bags, the Chronicle reported. He returned to his car, where he got his .45-caliber sawed-off Marlin rifle.
Returning to the beach, he stood over the sleeping couple.
"I saw two people asleep in sleeping bags, just layin' there asleep," Gallon told detectives in an April 2017 recorded confession. "I just made myself do it. Like, I don't, I don't know what I was thinking."
The Chronicle reported Gallon told investigators he shot Allen from about 7 feet away. Cutshall, alerted by the gunshot, sat up.
"The girl sat up and looked at her boyfriend, and by that time I had already cocked and shot her behind the ear," Gallon said in the recording.
Cutshall’s parents wept in the courtroom as the confession was played, the Chronicle reported. The details of their daughter’s last moments were new to them.
"She sat up. I didn't know that until today," her father, Chris Cutshall, later told the judge. "We were hoping she was still sleeping."
The court also heard graphic details of how Gallon shot his brother with an AR-15 he built himself, the newspaper reported.
Brady told the court Gallon went to his car the night of the murder, retrieved the gun and, without warning, walked upstairs in the family’s home and shot Shamus Gallon point-blank in the chest.
The gun jammed, but as Shamus Gallon fought to breathe, Shaun Gallon cleared the jam and shot him repeatedly in the neck, the Chronicle said.
The probation document states the motive for Shamus Gallon’s killing was a grudge the victim held from childhood, when Shaun Gallon punched him.
"If (Shamus) would have just gotten over it, this never would have happened," Shaun Gallon told detectives.
Gallon also blamed the targeted victim in his 2004 bombing for his actions, the Press Democrat reported. In that case, Gallon made a bomb out of an old hand grenade and put it in a gift box on top of a car belonging to John Robles, a man he got into a bar fight with several years earlier.
Robles did not use his car the morning of the incident, however, and it was his partner, Parvoneh Leal, who picked up the package, the report says. It exploded, maiming her.
The blast was so strong it shook the house, where Robles and the couple's two children sat watching cartoons, the Press Democrat reported.
Gallon told detectives he and Robles had made up after the fight, but it stuck in his mind and he grew to resent the other man, the report says.
If Robles "hadn't started trouble in the first place, this wouldn't have happened," Gallon told probation officials.
The Chronicle reported it was an emotional moment for Cutshall's family when Gallon was sentenced. Chris Cutshall, a pastor, told the judge he was less than four weeks away from officiating his daughter's wedding to Allen when the young couple was slain.
"I'm a man with a broken heart, and I always will be, and I'm OK with that," Cutshall said, according to the newspaper. "Lindsay's worth it. This man is not going to have any power in my life. This man doesn't deserve to have any control over me, and he doesn't."
Kathy Cutshall held up her daughter’s wedding dress and asked Gallon to look at it. He did.
"I brought it because it's empty. It represents what they lost," Cutshall told Gallon, according to the Chronicle. "Thank you for looking at it."
Kathy Cutshall also asked Gallon about the Bible she mailed to him after he had been charged with killing her daughter and Allen, the newspaper said.
“Do you have a Bible, Mr. Gallon?” she asked.
“Yes, I do,” he responded.
“Please read it,” she said.
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