Woman indicted in 1975 cold case dies before trial

PERRY, Ga. (AP) — The suspect in the 1975 death of a teenager in Georgia has died before she could be put on trial.

Georgia news outlets report that 16-year-old Cheryl White and then 18-year-old Mary Jane Stewart were roommates living in an apartment complex in the city of Warner Robins when White was found stabbed to death on the morning of Nov. 12, 1975.

It took decades to build the case but Stewart was arrested in White’s death in 2017 in Texas and released on bond. Trial had been set for May.

But, authorities only recently learned that the 61-year-old Stewart died in hospice care in October.

Houston County assistant district attorney Eric Edwards says he hopes Stewart’s arrest and indictment can help bring Cheryl White’s family some form of closure.

Stewart’s death certificate said she died Oct. 23, 2018, of acute chronic respiratory failure, Edwards said. Stewart had been ill earlier in the summer of last year but the prosecution had understood that she had recovered, Edwards said.

Edwards said he received the death certificate last week and wanted to first break the news to White’s father. He took it well, Edwards said.

“He’s had 43 years to make peace with it,” Edwards told The Telegraph in Macon. “He was thankful we were going to give it a shot.”

Edwards said he expects to file the formal paperwork in Houston County Superior Court this week to dismiss the case.

Stewart was accused of stabbing her former roommate in the chest and cutting her throat with a knife, according to the indictment. White was stabbed 15 times in her throat, arms and side, according to Telegraph archives.

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