Frank McAlister 1993 murder case resolved with guilty pleas by brother and sister

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A long-running Shasta County cold case was resolved Friday with guilty pleas by a brother and sister in the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old Redding man near Shingletown in 1993.

Curtis Culver, 49, and Shanna Culver, 45, pleaded guilty in Shasta County Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter, robbery in concert and multiple assault charges in the killing of Frank McAlister, according to the Shasta County District Attorney's Office.

Shanna and Curtis Culver appear Oct. 23, 2018, in Shasta County Superior Court to set their preliminary hearing date. The brother and sister pleaded guilty on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, to voluntary manslaughter, robbery and multiple assault charges in the fatal stabbing of Frank McAlister near Shingletown in 1993.
Shanna and Curtis Culver appear Oct. 23, 2018, in Shasta County Superior Court to set their preliminary hearing date. The brother and sister pleaded guilty on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, to voluntary manslaughter, robbery and multiple assault charges in the fatal stabbing of Frank McAlister near Shingletown in 1993.

A third co-defendant, 48-year-old Brian Hawkins of Shingletown, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, robbery and special allegations in November 2019. Hawkins has been in jail since Jan. 9, 2018, and is due to be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Curtis and Shanna Culver of Red Bluff, who've been jailed since Jan. 11, 2018, are due back in court Feb. 25 for a sentencing hearing. Curtis Culver faces 35 years in state prison while Shanna Culver faces 20 years in state prison, the DA's office said.

The case dates back to May 7, 1993, when McAlister was driven to a remote area in eastern Shasta County and was stabbed multiple times in the chest and head. A hiker found his skeletal remains nearly a year later in April 1994 near Grace and Nora lakes, Redding police said at the time.

McAlister's car was driven to Costco in Redding where it was abandoned, according to a summary from the DA's office. Police at the time said they found a large amount of blood in the car.

"The case was investigated for years but ultimately went cold," the DA's statement says. "The investigation was conducted by many members of the Redding Police Department spanning over 27 years."

Brian Hawkins, center, is flanked by co-defendants Shanna Culver, left, and her brother, Curtis Culver, right,  who both hid their faces from a news photographer's camera, during a settlement conference in December 2018 in Shasta County Superior Court.
Brian Hawkins, center, is flanked by co-defendants Shanna Culver, left, and her brother, Curtis Culver, right, who both hid their faces from a news photographer's camera, during a settlement conference in December 2018 in Shasta County Superior Court.

Detectives got their break on Jan. 9, 2018, when Hawkins went to a local TV station and confessed to the nearly 25-year-old murder. Hawkins' next stop was the Redding Police Department where Hawkins described the robbery and murder to detective Rusty Bishop, who has since retired.

Hawkins told the detective he committed the murder with the help of the Culvers, who were found and arrested within 12 hours, the DA's office said.

"Suspect Hawkins told investigators he could no longer live with the guilt and wanted to clear his conscious," police said in January 2018.

Police said Hawkins, along with Curtis and Shanna Culver, lured McAlister to the Shingletown area to rob him of money from an insurance settlement that he was going to use to buy methamphetamine.

"Brian Hawkins and Curtis Culver ultimately stabbed the victim to death and left his body in the woods," police said at the time.

"The trio then took his money and vehicle and drove back to Redding, abandoning the victim’s vehicle in the Costco parking lot," police said.

Frank McAlister
Frank McAlister

McAlister's father, Doug, who died in October 2017, said in a May 1993 interview with the Record Searchlight that his son was carrying thousands of dollars when he was last seen alive.

Family members said at that time that McAlister had been in a car accident in March 1993, and the day he was last seen he had received approximately $4,500 in an insurance settlement.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Kelly Kafel prosecuted the case.

Mike Chapman is an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Support local journalism by subscribing today.

This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: Curtis, Shanna Culver plead guilty in Frank McAlister murder case

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