WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — A 40-year-old case from a Warner Robins homicide was set to go to trial next month, but paperwork was filed on Friday to dismiss it
You may remember the 1975 cold case of 16-year-old Cheryl White.
Back then, White's body was found stabbed to death at the Parkway Apartments on Crestview Drive in Warner Robins.
Decades later, one friend said on Friday this is just the latest in a long roller-coaster of tragedy, one that police have been trying to piece together for years
"Cheryl White was 16-years-old when she was killed, so not to make light of the age of anyone who is killed, but a 16-year-old hits home," said Captain Chris Rooks with the Warner Robins Police Department.
According to Rooks, that in part was what helped generations of investigators keep hunting for her killer.
"A case like this is not really cold because there's a lot to do on it," he said. "You have to be aggressive as an investigator and determined to keep following up on the leads and never forget about it."
In 2017, decades after police say White was stabbed to death in her apartment, they thought they finally found who did it, and the Houston County District Attorney's Office agreed
"We felt that the evidence was strong," said Houston County Assistant District Attorney Eric Edwards.
Based on that evidence, a grand jury indicted Mary Jane Stewart, who had since moved to San Antonio Texas, and charged her with malice and felony murder.
Edwards says Stewart was White's roommate at the time of the crime. She was just 18.
This week, less than a month before it was set to go to trial, the case was suddenly dismissed. "All of a sudden, our office out of the blue one day received a call from someone purporting to be a neighbor of Mary Jane in San Antonio letting us know she had died," Edwards said.
Edwards says the tip was true, and without a defendant to try, the case was dismissed. It wasn't the outcome Edwards wanted to bring to White's family, but he hopes it's still worth something
"My hope is that they can at least feel some small measure of closure in the fact that her daughter's killer was identified by police, was arrested, and was formally charged with her daughter's murder."
We reached out to Mary Jane Stewart lawyer on Friday, but he declined to comment on the specifics of the case.