OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – After 19 years of a 2003 homicide going unsolved, the Oklahoma City Police Department filed charges and closed the cold case.

On September 30, 2003, 51-year-old Sandra Garcia was found lying on the floor of her Southeast OKC home with dried blood on her face, according to a police report.

The Oklahoma City PD posted on Facebook saying Garcia was beaten and she had been stabbed several times in her home.

According to a News 4 report covering Garcia’s homicide, she had zero family and “few friends.”

Garcia’s former convenience store manager, Melissa Woods, grew close to her and told KFOR at the time, “Once she became your friend, she was truly your friend. She’d give you the shirt off her back.”

Woods also said she hoped Garcia’s killer would be found and justice could be served.

OKCPD didn’t have any leads until the case was reviewed again in 2017 by the Oklahoma County DA’s Office and the OKCPD Cold Case unit.

“There was DNA and there was fingerprints” said Gary Knight with OKCPD.

In looking at the case again, investigators discovered that DNA evidence retrieved from the original crime scene traced back to two men: Andrew Louis Canaday and David Yanes.

“It’s [DNA evidence] not the be all end all in the case,” explained Knight. “We find their DNA at the scene, but it doesn’t tell us exactly what role they played in the crime. But we were able to put the pieces together.”

It wasn’t until an interview with Canaday on May 10 that investigators got enough information to file charges.

Charges have been filed against Canday for Murder in the First Degree and Manslaughter in the First Degree against Canaday on Aug. 11, 2022.

Canaday is already serving time in prison for another criminal felony from 2018.

According to OSCN, he was booked on five criminal felony counts:

  1. DUI
  2. POSS OF CDS
  3. FAILURE TO CARRY INSURANCE/ SECURITY VERIFICATION FORM
  4. OBSTRUCTING AN OFFICER
  5. DRIVING W/LICENSE CANCELLED/SUSPENDED/REVOKED

Canaday has a long history of being in and out of the courtroom aside from these charges.

Yanes, however, committed suicide in Dallas in September 2004.

Knight said Yanes is assumed to be the one who murdered Garcia and Canaday was an accessory.

KFOR searched through obituary records at the Oklahoma Historical Society, looking for someone close to Garcia, but a formal obituary wasn’t published, only a notice obituary.

The notice obituary didn’t provide much other than Garcia’s age, date of death and a vigil time set for Oct. 6, 2003, at 8 p.m.

Neither current friends nor relatives could be located.

“One of the things that really hit me hard on top of not really having friends or family to reach out to is I can’t find a picture of her anywhere,” said the Director of Victim Services for Survivors of Homicide, Inc., Jessica Pizzano. “I think that even shows kind of the isolation that maybe the people that were close to her have passed away.”

Pizzano said with cold cases like Garcia’s, it’s hard on family and friends, even after it’s solved.

“Some people don’t even really feel as though there is closure. It’s just a step by step process, and then when you start talking about cases that are cold or that have gone on for a long period of time, it’s even more stressful for the families,” Pizzano told KFOR.

Cold cases getting solved though allows for loved ones to begin the grieving period, according to Pizzano.

“A lot of times when these cases are not solved for a period of time, families can’t even grieve properly. For a lot of people, it brings them back to that first day that they found out that they have lost their loved one, so their grieving can start all over again,” she added.

Pizzano said for anyone who is experiencing the loss of a loved one to homicide or waiting for a cold case to be solved, “You have a right to feel devastated. You have a right to feel angry. You have a right to want these answers. You are not alone in this. But never give up hope because it just takes one person or one piece of evidence that could solve the case.”

Survivors of Homicide, Inc. is based in Connecticut, but Pizzano said they offer hybrid support groups to anyone who has lost a loved one to homicide that needs it.

Pizzano encourages anyone looking for help or support to contact her about support groups dates and times. Her email is jessica.pizzano@survivorsofhomicide.com, and her office phone number is (860) 324-5679.

Garcia’s case is the third cold case investigators have solved this year. They’ve reviewed 15 so far.

“It feels good for the detectives. But what makes them feel good about it, for the most part, if I can speak for them, is that it provides relief or closure to the family of the victim,” Knight said.

Knight told KFOR investigators have a long list of other cold cases to review.