'PURPORTED CULTISTS [SIC] COULDN'T KILL'
by Mark Shaffer in "The Arizona Republic" Sunday, 28 June 1992
COOLIDGE- The Rev. Billy Brown smiles as he remembers the spiritual frenzy
of the Cannaday brothers. They used to go into mystical trances and speak
in tongues for hours on end at his Trinity Baptist Church.
Darned good singer, too, Brown said. Give them a hymnal and you could
count on pleasant harmonies far into the night.
But mention the name of the Cannadays to law-enforcement officials in
these parts, and no one says choirboys.
Arizona Department of Public Safety investigators say they believe the
four men, along with their sister and former sister-in-law, were involved in
possible satanic-cult activities in the sesert west of Coolidge. These
activities, they say, may have included the slaying of children during
Friends laugh at the prospect, saying the Cannadays can't even stand
the sight of blood on television. Besides, they point out, no one knows of any
But earlier this month, DPS investigators, acting on a tip, unearthed
bone fragments, clothing, and pieces of duct tape near the Eleven Mile Corner
area. Two other digs, one last year nd one last week, turned up nothing.
No charges have been filed, and nothing has been found to link the
Cannadays to the items, DPS Capt. Jim McMorris said.
But McMorris said investigators are interested in the allegations of
four children, all of whom claim they were molested.
Edward Cannaday, 36; Otis Cannaday, 33; Carl Dean Cannaday, 35; Edgar
"Yogi" Cannaday, 29; Sharlotte Cannaday Brown, age unknown; and Charlotte
Burkhart, 38, were arrested and charged in November on 32 counts of child
molestation involving four juveniles, ages 9 to 14, during November 1988. All
but Brown remain in the Pinal County Jail in Florence. Jailers would not allow
a reporter to talk to the Cannadays last week.
A court document filed by Robert Cimino, Edward's attorney in the
molestation case, indicated that the children told investigators last year
that some of the defendants were involved in "satanic practices and rituals."
"References were made by some of the molestation victims ... that some
of the defendants herein engaged in human sacrifices, which the children were
made to witness," Cimino wrote.
"On at least one occasion, one victim said the victim was made to also
engage in the human sacrifice of a newborn child."
McMorris refused to comment on whether investigators had leads in the
case other than what were provided by the children.
Pinal County Attorney Roy Mendoza said he knew of no missing children
in the county who had been tied into the case.
Aquaintances of the Cannadays in Coolidge, a hard-bitten cotton-
growing city, say the accusations of cults and slayings are baloney. They say
that the Cannadays barely have the brainpower to tie their own shoes, much
less understand satanism.
"All those Cannadays are just a bunch of retarded people," said Betty
Lewis, Charlotte Burkhart's sister. "It's the same way with those accusing
them. They're kin of theirs. You look in their eyes and you see no
Billy Brown, who is Sharlotte Brown's father-in-law, said that one of
the brothers demanded that his bail amount be doubled because he apparently
was insulted that it wasn't the same as one of his brother's.
"How ridiculous is that? That poor boy can't even read and write,"
According to pinal County court records, Otis was interviewed by
Phoenix psychologist Paul M. Bindelglas on April 30.
Bindelglas wrote that he had a recorded IQ of 54, that he read at a
third-grade level, that he was in special-education classes until he was 22,
and that he is "on the border of mild-moderate mental retardation."
Lewis said the Cannadays spent most of their time tossing horseshoes
and playing children's games.
"The reason I don't believe this stuff about sacrificing humans is
that just the thought of blood scared all of them half to death," Lewis said.
"I saw them all leavge the room once when a bloody movie came on TV."
Brown said the Cannaday's problems began when Edward quit his job as a
janitor and moved to California two years ago and then refused to pay alimony
to his former wife.
"She said that she would have them all thrown in jail, and she did."
Gary Dill, a former neighbor of the Cannaday family, said detectives
could easily scare the Cannadays into confessing anything about cult
activities whether it happened or not."I just don't know how they can hold
people in jail who are so badly retarded," Dill said.