Oregon serial killer gets life in prison - KCTV5

Oregon serial killer gets life in prison

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Sick and twisted. An evil and cowardly criminal. A soul of pure evil.

Those are some the descriptions relatives of Jeffrey Cutlip's victims had for the serial killer at his sentencing hearing.

A judge sentenced Cutlip to three consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of Marlene Carlson, 44, in 1975 and Julie Bennett, 15, in 1977; and Nielene Doll, 33, in 1993.

Convicted of sodomy and burglary in 1982, Cutlip was classified as a predatory sex offender in Oregon. Records show he spent much of the past three decades in and out of prison.

The murders remained unsolved until July 2012 when Cutlip, living in Texas, called Brownsville police to admit his involvement. He was arrested and extradited to Portland.

The confession

Detectives never expected Jeffrey Cutlip's confession to come like this.

In July 2012, the predatory sex offender called 911 in Texas.

"Hi, is this the police? I need to turn myself in," Cutlip said to the dispatcher.

He added, "I'm afraid people will find out and that's what's been scaring me."

Portland police cold case detectives had suspected Cutlip in two murders from the 1970s, the killings of Marlene Carlson, 44, in 1975 and Julie Bennett, 15, in 1977, but did not have enough evidence to arrest him until he confessed.

Cutlip would also admit killing Nielene Doll, 33, in 1993.

"He is, without a doubt, the single most evil person that I've ever encountered," said Det. Jim Lawrence.

The victims

Det. Lawrence began reviewing the death of Julie Bennett in 2008, after her family asked cold case investigators to take another look.

Julie Bennett's body was found in Johnson Creek in the spring of 1977 and her death was ruled an accidental drowning.

Her family never believed the shy and sweet teenager drowned, because their mother was a lifeguard and taught them all to swim when they were young.

They suspected Cutlip, the last person Julie Bennett was spotted with, had something to do with her death, but the creek's cold water destroyed evidence.

"I absolutely believed, based on other things we know about Jeff Cutlip that he was down at the park playing his guitar and once Julie Bennett approached him to talk to him about playing guitar, that she was not going to get away from Jeff Cutlip," Det. Lawrence said.

He kept her case file front and center on his desk, a reminder that he wanted to close the case one day.

Cold case detectives began suspecting Cutlip in Marlene Carlson's death when they realized Cutlip lived in the same apartment building as the victim in 1975.

After no one had seen the friendly mother of three for a week, officers found the woman bound inside her apartment. She'd been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. A padlock was placed outside the front door.

Despite their suspicions, there was not enough evidence to arrest Cutlip for either of the murders until he called 911.

"It was frustrating to wait, so when he finally did call the Brownsville police, I was ecstatic," said Det. Lawrence.

While talking to the 911 dispatcher, Cutlip named Bennett and described the killing of Carlson.

After Det. Lawrence and Det. Meredith Hopper flew to Brownsville, they determined Cutlip had also killed Nielene Doll after meeting her at a bar in Portland.

Her body was found in rural Clackamas County.

"The second day after we were in Brownsville, when I was able to call Julie Bennett's sister and Marlene Carlson's daughter, their reaction is when we realized, this is what we do," said Det. Lawrence.

The sentencing

After Cutlip plead guilty to the three murders last fall, a Multnomah County judge sentenced him to three consecutive life sentences.

Cutlip kept his head down during the sentencing hearing, as relatives of the victims read emotional impact statements.

"We loved our mother very much. I was not close to her, but I had a chance to be close to her and you took that away from me," said Sheri Rekow, Carlson's daughter, told Cutlip. "I hope you rot in hell."

"Whatever the motive, I'm grateful to know the truth," said Julie Robinson, the youngest daughter of Marlene Carlson. "I'm grateful to close this chapter and end the searching and wondering of the last 38 years."

"We will never get to see Julie again in this lifetime or know what she might have chosen to do with her life as an adult, the family and children and life she might have had," said Sandra Bennett, sister of Julie Bennett. "All of these things were taken by this sickening, evil person that you see here before you."

"I no longer feel the need to confront him," said Rebecca Bennett Blick, Julie Bennett's sister. "I'm just very, very, very grateful he won't be out there again to do this to any other families."

Det. Hopper read a letter from the daughter of Nielene Doll during the sentencing hearing.

The woman wrote she was raised by another family, but tried to find her mother, only to learn Doll was killed weeks before.

Cutlip did not speak during the sentencing hearing or offer the victims an explanation for his crimes.

During the 911 call, Cutlip told the dispatcher that an officer he spoke with about his sex offender status made a comment that led him to start thinking about his crimes.

"It's been eating me ever since. I can't stand it," Cutlip said. "I can't stand the idea that people will hate me."

Det. Lawrence suspects Cutlip confessed for another reason.

He said Texas authorities cut off Cutlip's public benefits while he was awaiting trial for failing to register as a sex offender.

"I believe he did it to make sure that he got fed and got care for as long as he needs feeding and care," said Det. Lawrence. "I believe he turned himself in because he was tired of running and tired of being hungry and out on the streets."

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