JAY, Okla. — The combination of high-tech forensic science and the abundance of crime-based television programs has left a public perception that a cold case can be wrapped up in an hour.

Disproving that myth continues to be the dilemma facing the Delaware County Cold Case Unit.

“We have people that believe we have a forensic truck that follows us to a crime scene and can process fingerprints and DNA samples within minutes,” said Delaware County Sheriff James Beck.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, he said.

The cold case squad returned to old-fashion investigative techniques to solve the Georgie Cannaday case.

Georgie and George Cannaday

The decomposing remains of Georgie Cannaday, 48, were found wrapped up in a rug in an upstairs bedroom of her rural Jay home on June 28, 1973.  A recently found autopsy report showed she died by strangulation.

“We went back to the basics,” said Mark Wall, cold case detective.

There wasn’t even a file on Cannaday to be found in the Delaware County Sheriff’s office, he said. The rug, her clothes, the autopsy report and investigative reports were nowhere to be found.

“After the original Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation report was located, we started interviewing the same witnesses that were interviewed 50 years ago,” Wall said.

“People’s memories can become clearer as time passes,” Wall said. “Sometimes a person can remember a small detail that during the height of a homicide investigation was overlooked.”

Also when social media sites publish stories about a crime, people start talking, he said. 

“Sometimes people are near the end of their life and want to get things off their chest before they die,” Wall said.

This was evident in the Cannaday case in a round-about-way, he said.

One of Georgie’s neighbors told his family members he heard the deathbed confession of a neighbor.

The deathbed confession wasn’t the suspect admitting to Georgie’s grisly death, but the confession was of a man who was so fearful of one of the suspects and what he was told by one of the suspects.

The suspect confessed to his neighbor killing Cannaday with two other men, Wall said.

The neighbor, fearing for his life, kept the man’s secret and upon his deathbed, confessed the decades-long secret to another neighbor, he said.

That neighbor’s family approached Wall and recounted hearing from the dying man, the suspect “was white as a sheet” and “shaking uncontrollably and tearful,” as he confessed to killing Georgie, Wall said.   

The suspect reportedly said, “They hadn’t planned on killing Cannaday, but the things got out of hand, and it went too far,” Wall said. 

Pouring over the criminal history of their primary suspect they found a juvenile who, in 1973, showed a pattern of abuse and violence that followed him for the remainder of his life.

“When I was reviewing the old OSBI report, I reinterviewed a witness who led me to interview another woman – who was a 17-year-old in 1973 – who had been strangled and almost lost her life, just days before Cannaday was killed,” Wall said.

Wall said he traced the accused’s criminal history and there was a strong pattern of violence including strangulation.

“He served time in the state’s Department of Corrections for assault and battery with intent to kill and solicitation for murder,” Wall said.

“His family also had a key to the Cannaday home and the doors to the Cannaday home were locked from the inside; however, the front screen door was unhooked and the front door was equipped with a night lock,” Wall said.


Georgie was laid to rest in 1973, but her family and law enforcement gathered at the gravesite on Friday (8/18) to honor the woman who loved children, was shy of strangers, and whose tasty peach cobbler was everyone’s favorite dessert.

“She probably would have been embarrassed at all the attention her case garnished,” Wall said.

“I think Georgie can rest in peace now, knowing that people cared about her, not just me, but our whole team and really, a lot of people in our area cared about her,” Wall said.

Named after her father, George Cannaday, Georgie was the baby of the family and was loved by everyone. As the family said their goodbyes at the gravesite, pink roses (her favorite) were placed on her headstone.