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The cold case 1975 murder of Georgia teenager can never answer all the questions, because the suspect murderer who would have been arrested two years ago has died, researchers revealed.
The victim, a 16-year-old Cheryl White, had been found with her throat cut in a meager apartment in Warner Robins, a city two hours southeast of Atlanta. It took the researchers until 2017 to collect enough evidence to charge Cheryl’s roommate at the time, Mary Jane Stewart, with the murder. Stewart was 18 at the time of the murder.
Stewart’s trial was set for May, but researchers have learned only recently that she died in hospice care in October last year in San Antonio, where she was free on bond. She was 61.
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Cheryl’s family had been looking forward to having their day in court, WGXA-TV reported.
“There is an element of disappointment,” Houston County prosecutor Eric Edwards told the station. “They were finally, finally, to see the woman that we believe was the death of their daughter on trial.”
Mary Jane Stewart died in October last year, researchers have revealed.
(Houston County Sheriff’s Office)
In the beginning of the case, two men were arrested on the basis of the information Stewart gave investigators, the station reported. Eventually they were turned off. She was convicted of perjury for lying to investigators.
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She got a break after a detective interviewed Stewart’s ex-boyfriend, the station reported. He said Stewart shared with him the details of the night Cheryl was murdered.
Stewart in the death certificate said she died Oct. 23, 2018, of acute chronic respiratory failure, Edwards said. Stewart was sick earlier in the summer of last year, but the public prosecutor had understood that she had recovered.
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Edwards said he broke the news to Cheryl’s father, after receipt of the death certificate of the previous week.
“He was 43 years to make peace with it,” Edwards said, as The Associated Press reported. “He was grateful we were planning to give it a shot.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.