Chippewa County Jail  /  AP
Nicholas Edward Scarseth
updated 8/25/2004 10:53:44 PM ET 2004-08-26T02:53:44

A Wisconsin man who had been sought as a potential witness in the shooting deaths of two camp counselors has been cleared by authorities after he made himself available to investigators.

Nicholas Edward Scarseth, 21, contacted police to undergo questioning Tuesday after learning from media reports he was being sought in the investigation.

“He was cooperative, and was released after our interview,” Lt. Dave Edmonds of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement Wednesday. “We presently do not view Mr. Scarseth as a suspect.”

Two Sonoma County detectives visited the home of Scarseth’s parents in Chippewa Falls, Wis., to apologize, his mother said.

'Big mix-up'
“It was all a big mix-up,” Karen Scarseth told The Associated Press in a phone interview, “a big hullabaloo about nothing.”

Dozens of detectives are investigating the murders of Lindsay Cutshall, 23, and her fiance, Jason Allen, 26, who were found Aug. 18 shot to death in their sleeping bags on a remote beach near the Northern California hamlet of Jenner. No weapon has been found.

Authorities returned Wednesday to a foggy Sonoma State Park to resume their investigation. Deputies closed the beach and blocked the trail leading to where the campers were killed.

The beach is officially off-limits to camping though many still stay there. Several makeshift huts have been built out of driftwood; one has a “Welcome” note scrawled on the outside.

Cutshall, of Fresno, Ohio, and Allen, of Zeeland, Mich., were reported missing Aug. 16 after they failed to show up at the Christian adventure camp where they worked in Coloma, about 40 miles east of Sacramento. Autopsies indicated they were killed Aug. 16 or 17.

Scarseth’s parents said the tip that led detectives to their son came from a person who reported seeing the couple after their bodies were already in the morgue.

“It turned out to be a complete case of mistaken identity,” said Scarseth’s father, Mark Scarseth. “He is not the guy they were looking for.”

The parents said detectives told them Scarseth never met the couple, but was able to provide some helpful information.

'Roaming around'
They said they hadn’t yet talked to their son themselves, and didn’t know where he is headed. They also said they never thought he had anything to do with the crimes.

Scarseth had been stopped for violating a skateboarding ordinance Friday — before authorities were seeking him — in Fort Bragg, about 100 miles north of Jenner.

Karen Scarseth said he was last home about a month ago and she last talked to him on the telephone about a week ago from California. She said her son has an alcohol problem but is not violent. Court records show he has had various minor scrapes with the law.

“He’s just roaming around,” she said. “If he ran into those people (who were killed), he would have befriended them,” she said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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