DELAWARE COUNTRY, Okla. – Pink roses, reminiscent of the ones Georgie Cannaday would pick alongside the dirt road near her rural Jay home, were laid on her headstone on Friday as the family and law enforcement officers gathered in honor of a woman whose homicide was finally solved.
Georgie Cannaday, 48, died a horrific death. Her strangled, decomposed body was found wrapped up in a rug in an upstairs bedroom on June 28, 1973.
The Delaware County Cold Case unit closed Cannaday’s case last week after interviewing new witnesses as well as reinterviewing old witnesses. Investigators were able to positively identify two men, they now say are Cannaday’s killers. Both suspects are deceased.
“We have some unanswered questions – like what was the motive for her death – robbery certainly wasn’t,” said Mark Wall, Delaware County Cold Case detective.
Cannaday’s purse was found near her body containing money and personal papers.
One of the suspects who was a juvenile at the time, led a life of crime – using strangulation as his M.O., Wall said.
The family gathered at the Zena Cemetery, a country graveyard in rural northeastern Oklahoma, where Cannaday was buried 50 years ago, near her father, George Cannaday. They told stories and talked about the woman they remember as their sweet aunt.
“She loved children, and she could make the best peach cobbler,” said Gerry Dubois, after the gravesite remembrance service.
Gerry was just a young woman when Georgie was killed. She was married to Georgie’s nephew, Charles.
Georgie’s niece, Wanda Forster, also spoke about memories of her beloved aunt.
“She just loved children,” Forster said. “In some ways, she was a child herself.”
Georgie lived alone in the house her father left her when he died just three months before her murder. She rarely left home, and most people considered Georgie a recluse.
Delaware County Sheriff James Beck, Cold Case Director Stephanie Bishop, and Detective Wall met with the family prior to the memorial service, to answer as many questions about the case, as they could.
The most pressing question on their minds, “What are the names of the suspects?”
While investigators are currently not able to release the names of the two suspects because they are deceased, Sheriff Beck says he understands the family’s frustration of not knowing the killers’ names.
“But it’s really satisfying to know after 50 years,” said Wall. “We know who committed the crime and we know how it was committed, and it gives the family a little bit of peace, I hope, knowing that it’s solved. Even though the individuals have passed away, they’re probably still paying for their crime.”
Bishop, who volunteers her time on the cold case squad, also spoke with the family about the search for missing evidence in the case, like the rug used to wrap Georgie’s body in.
“We will regroup in several months and we may have the family sign confidentiality releases before releasing the names of both suspects,” Bishop said.
Family members thanked the Cold Case team for their work.
After the service, Detective Wall escorted Georgie’s family to the old family homestead to view the home where Cannaday lost her life.