Burned body identified as Scott City woman

Thursday, August 15, 2013 ~ Updated 11:57 AM
Cynthia Canoy

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been changed to say the Scott City Police Department couldn't be reached Wednesday afternoon. The department returned a call, but it wasn't received by the reporter before the close of business.

A week after she was found, the Scott County coroner identified Cynthia Canoy as the woman whose body was discovered in a burning vehicle in a corn field.

While her son remained in jail on accusations of assaulting his stepfather in May, court records showed a history of domestic disputes between Canoy, her son and his stepfather. A relative questions whether police took those incidents seriously enough.

Canoy of Scott City, found Aug. 7 in a burning car in northern Scott County, was identified by Scott County Coroner Scott Amick as the victim of a homicide after results from a DNA test confirmed her identity. A cause of death hasn't been determined.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no charges had been filed in a case the Scott County Sheriff's Department still is calling a homicide, rather than a murder.

On the evening of Aug. 7, crews responding to a car fire in a corn field off County Road 323 discovered a body in the car and called the sheriff's department. Sheriff Rick Walter activated the SEMO Major Case Squad for investigation.

Because of the condition of the body, authorities did not release the victim's identity until Wednesday morning because they were awaiting confirmation through DNA tests.

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

Cynthia and Jerry Canoy did not pursue charges at the time 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.

On June 30, Jerry Canoy was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault in connection with an altercation at the same address, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed by Scott City police officer Adam Hilse.

A deer camera set up in the garage captured footage of the altercation, in which Jerry Canoy is accused of grabbing a victim around the neck, Hilse wrote. The victim's name was redacted from the report, but he was identified as Cynthia Canoy's son.

Deb Huffman, who identified herself as Jerry Canoy's sister, said he was the victim in the altercation and was only defending himself. She said Jerry Canoy required surgery for "compound, complex nose fractures" as a result of the fight. Huffman said Jerry Canoy wasn't immediately available for an interview.

Huffman said Jerry Canoy tried to file charges multiple times, but Scott City Police tried to talk him out of it.

"Jerry was actually asked by Scott City Police Department to sign a release stating he did not want to file a complaint; he refused," Huffman said in a comment she posted on a story on the Southeast Missourian website.

She also said the Canoys had filed another criminal complaint against Howland for a different incident.

The Scott City Police Department was not reachable for comment Wednesday afternoon.

In recent months, the Scott City Police Department has reported responding to calls about theft, trespassing, assault and identity theft in the 900 block of Oak Street. In its log of calls sent to media outlets, the police department listed only block numbers and not specific addresses.

The department referred requests for copies of incident reports about those calls to county authorities, saying they were all part of an ongoing investigation. The Southeast Missourian submitted a request for the incident reports to the prosecuting attorney's office, but hadn't received a reply late Wednesday.

In her affidavit, Saupe wrote that Jerry Canoy called police Aug. 1 to follow through with the charges stemming from the May incident, but the charges were not filed against Howland until Aug. 9, two days after Cynthia Canoy's body was found.

A Scott City police report shows Howland was arrested Aug. 5 on a Jackson warrant. A Scott City officer declined to comment on when Howland was released.

Howland was in the Scott County Jail on Wednesday on $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing on the assault and weapon charges is scheduled for Sept. 3. He didn't have a lawyer listed in online court records. Arraignment for Jerry Canoy on his assault charges stemming from the June 30 incident is scheduled for Aug. 27.

skluesner@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent address:

919 Oak St., Scott City, MO

Benton, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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