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Brother and Sister Plead Guilty in 1993 California Cold Case Murder After Being Named as Accomplices by Third Man in Local TV Interview


Curtis Culver (L) and Shanna Culver (R) appear in mugshots

Frank McAlister was 19 years old when he was was stabbed multiple times in the head and the chest. Now, almost 30 years later, authorities say they’ve finally closed the file on his long-cold case.

According to the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office, the final two suspects in the 1993 murder, a brother and sister, pleaded guilty to multiple charges related to his death on Friday.

Curtis Culver, 49, and Shanna Culver, 45, each accepted legal culpability on a broad suite of voluntary manslaughter, robbery in concert and assault charges in Shasta County Superior Court.

The case nears a sense of finality several years after a third co-defendant was brought up on more serious charges.

Brian Hawkins, 48, was arrested in January 2018. He pleaded guilty to murder in the first degree, robbery and special allegations in November 2019. He faces 25 years in prison because of the special circumstances in which the case was uncovered in the first place.

That is, law enforcement had nothing to do with it at all.

Brian Hawkins confesses to the murder of Frank McAlister

Brian Hawkins confesses to the murder of Frank McAlister on live television in 2018

Hawkins confessed to the murder during an interview with Redding, Calif.-based ABC affiliate KRCR in early 2018. He said he was going to turn himself in and, immediately after the interview, he went to local authorities and made his formal confession.

“I’m going to turn myself in, next door at the sheriff’s department, for a crime I was involved in years ago,” he told the local news anchor at the time. “And somebody lost their life. Murder.”

Declining to provide details about the circumstances of the killing, Hawkins attributed his religious faith to his decision to come forward.

“God and Christ and these things that have happened over the course of 25 years have pushed me and pushed me to do the right thing,” he explained, bemoaning the finality of death. “I know the wrong can’t be changed, but this is the closest I can come to doing the right thing.”

He also explained how it felt to live with the crimson secret.

“Horrible, horrible, horrible, absolute horror, absolutely horrible since that day,” Hawkins said, without making eye-contact, and increasingly emotional. “Every minute of every day has been a nightmare. It’s kind of weird, Frank never got to have a life, but we were teenagers and now I’m 44 and still haven’t even had a life and now most likely won’t anyway. I’ve been through hell my whole life because of this.”

McAlister’s skeletal remains were discovered by a hiker in April 1994 near Grace Lake and Nora Lake. The deceased man’s car had been found earlier at a Costco parking lot filled with blood.

During the interview, Hawkins named the Culver siblings as his accomplices. Their motive in the slaying was robbery.

The trio had planned to steal a $4,500 insurance settlement that McAlister had recently received after luring him out to Shingletown, Calif. under the pretense of selling him methamphetamine. Curtis Culver and Hawkins then stabbed the young man to death.

The brother and sister were arrested some 12 hours later.

The elder Culver faces a possibility of 35 years in state prison while his little sister is facing the prospect of 20 years behind bars. Each of them is due back in court on Feb. 25, 2022 for sentencing.

[images via Shasta County Jail]

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