John Canady signed photo

John Canady signed photo


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.

The photo is hand signed, with a handwritten return address.

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