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Victim's mother says family devastated by homicide

Friday, August 16, 2013

SCOTT CITY, Mo. -- Cynthia Canoy's mother said Thursday her family has been devastated by what she called the senseless, immeasurable and incomprehensible death of her daughter.

"Cynthia loved her family, friends, being a truck driver, animals, fishing and most importantly life," Canoy's mother Emma Burke said in an emailed statement.

Canoy's body was discovered in a burning vehicle in a corn field Aug. 7 near Kelso, Mo., but because of the body's condition, her identity was not released until Wednesday after DNA confirmation. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

The Scott County Sheriff's Department so far has been reluctant to use the word "murder" in connection to the case, instead referring to it as a homicide investigation. Sheriff Rick Walter said this week investigators have interviewed several people. Walter also has said he doesn't believe the public is in danger from anyone involved in Canoy's death, but hasn't named a suspect.

Canoy's family is asking for privacy, according to the email from Burke and Canoy's sister, Amanda Freeman, but urges anyone with information about her death to contact the Scott County Sheriff's Department.

"We support a full investigation into the person or persons responsible and the cause of this horrible tragedy and we will not rest until we are satisfied with the outcome," the statement read.

Canoy's son, Neil Howland Jr., was arrested Aug. 9 on charges of third-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon stemming from a May 18 incident at 919 Oak St. in Scott City, in which Canoy and her husband told police Howland had threatened them with a machete and firearms, and they feared for their lives.

As of Thursday, no charges were filed against Howland relating to the death investigation.

Cynthia and Jerry Canoy did not pursue charges immediately after the May incident for fear of retaliation, according to a probable-cause statement Scott City police officer Amber Saupe filed in the case. Saupe wrote that Jerry Canoy contacted her Aug. 1 and said he wanted to pursue charges.

Dodd said after Jerry Canoy's refusal to press charges, police asked him to sign a prosecution refusal statement. Dodd said a police officer was told by Jerry Canoy he would have to think about it.

On Aug. 1, Jerry Canoy contacted Saupe saying he wanted to press charges against Howland in the May 18 incident, according to Saupe's statement. It was about a month after June 30 altercation between him and his stepson, Howland, resulting in Canoy being charged with assault.

Dodd said police sent information about the May confrontation between Jerry and Cynthia Canoy and Howland to the prosecuting attorney's office earlier this month.

A Scott City police report shows Howland was arrested Aug. 5 on a Jackson warrant. Dodd said Howland was in custody for about one hour but was released on bond. Dodd said there were no other outstanding warrants for Howland in the Scott City police computer system at the time of the Aug. 5 arrest.

Amy Commean, a public defender, is representing Howland in his charges stemming from the May 18 assault. A call was made to her office Thursday afternoon but was not immediately returned.

Howland was in the Scott County Jail on Thursday on $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing on the assault and weapon charges is scheduled for Sept. 3. According to online court records no additional charges were filed against Howland as of Thursday afternoon.

Arraignment for Jerry Canoy on his assault charges stemming from the June 30 incident is scheduled for Aug. 27.

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