Almost 40 Years Later...
Killer gets life for 1968 murder
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEATTLE -- A King County judged sentenced John Dwight Canaday, a man prosecutors call "the first known serial killer in Washington," to life in prison after DNA evidence tied him to a 36-year-old crime.
The 1968 slaying of Sandra Bowman is the oldest "cold case" ever solved in Washington state, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County prosecutor's office.
Three decades ago, the pregnant 16-year-old's husband came home to find her body riddled with stab wounds.
In charging papers, a Seattle police detective who recently questioned Canaday said the Walla Walla penitentiary prisoner sighed, held up his hands and declared, "Yes, I killed her," when told he had left DNA at the scene.
On Thursday, Canaday, 59, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. His sentence will run consecutively with his current two life terms at Walla Walla for two other murders.
Earlier this year, a forensic scientist at the state crime lab matched Canaday's DNA to sperm found on Bowman's body. His genetic profile was in the state's DNA database because of two 1969 murder convictions.
According to court documents, Bowman was stabbed at least 57 times on Dec. 17, 1968. When her husband came home from work, he found her bloodied body face down on their bed, her hands tied behind her back.
At Thursday's sentencing, details of the crime still held the power to shock the judge and prosecutor in the case.
"The horror of your crimes are beyond words," Judge Richard Jones told Canaday as he sentenced him.
Bowman's husband, Thomas Bowman, said at the sentencing that he was still haunted by the crime.
"You basically destroyed my life, too," Bowman told Canaday. "I was the one who found her and I will never forget what I saw."
Deputy Prosecutor Tim Bradshaw called the Bowman case the "most repugnant" he had seen. For Canaday to spend the rest of his life in prison, he said, "is legally, philosophically and morally mandated in this case."
Bradshaw said that although more-notorious serial killers have followed, Canaday was the first known example in state history. The Bowman case is also the oldest killing ever to be prosecuted in Washington, he said.
Canaday was 24 and working as a pipeman's helper for the city water department when Bowman was killed.
In a June interview, Canaday told Detectives Gregg Mixsell and Mike Ciesynski that he "randomly knocked on her door" and "attacked her ... I stabbed her," Mixsell wrote in charging papers.
Canaday blamed the attack on a bitter divorce, "a lot of anger at myself and immaturity," Mixsell wrote.
In court documents, Bradshaw said killing Bowman "evidently emboldened" Canaday to attack other women, killing two of them.
On Jan. 4, 1969, Canaday knocked on 21-year-old Mary Bjornson's door. He said he had car trouble, then pulled out a knife, tied her wrists with a rope, drove her to a park and strangled her.
Three weeks later, he raped and killed Lynne Tuski, 20, after finding her walking to her car outside a north Seattle department store. He dumped her body and burned her clothes in his parents' fireplace, just as he'd done with Bjornson's clothes.
Later that year, Canaday was sentenced to die for those two murders. He won a reprieve in 1972, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively struck down the death penalty in more than 30 states, including Washington.
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