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Wisconsin man question in Christian camp counselors' deaths



Published: Wed, August 25, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) -- A 21-year-old Wisconsin man contacted police Tuesday and was questioned in the mysterious shooting deaths of two Christian camp counselors. Sonoma County detectives sent out a statewide alert Tuesday seeking Nicholas Edward Scarseth, of Chippewa Falls, Wis., as a "potential witness" in the killings. When Scarseth heard about that from media reports, he got in touch with authorities, Sheriff's Lt. Dave Edmonds said. "We have located him and we are speaking with him," Edmonds said. "We want to question him to determine what he knows about this case. He has not been charged. This is consensual contact. We're not holding him." Edmonds would not say why detectives are interested in Scarseth but described him as a "person of interest" in the slayings of Lindsay Cutshall, 23, of Fresno, Ohio, and her fiance, Jason Allen, 26. They were found shot through the head last week as they slept on a beach near Jenner, in Northern California. "We have information that suggests that a person matching that description was in Jenner during the time frame of the killings," Edmonds said. Scarseth's mother, Karen, said her son has a drinking problem but is not violent. "He's just roaming around," she said. "If he ran into those people, he would have befriended them." However, she also said her son harbors anger toward religious people. "He brings up religion and politics to irritate people. He likes to stir people up," she said. Cutshall and Allen, of Zeeland, Mich., were reported missing Aug. 16 after they failed to show up at a Christian adventure camp in Coloma, about 40 miles east of Sacramento. Their bodies were discovered Wednesday. Autopsies showed they 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. Chippewa Falls Police Capt. Wayne Nehring said Scarseth was being sought on two misdemeanor warrants valid only in Wisconsin. One was for misdemeanor theft of a bottle of liquor and another was for disorderly conduct, he said. Scarseth's mother said she heard from her son last week, when he phoned from California to say he had gotten a hotel room through a voucher from a "church woman." Scarseth had been stopped on Friday by police in Fort Bragg -- about 100 miles north of Jenner. Fort Bragg Police Sgt. Rogelio Orozco said Scarseth was stopped because he was skateboarding downtown, which is prohibited. Officers ran Scarseth's name through a statewide database, which turned up nothing, Orozco said.




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