Tulsa Police looking for help in solving a 1987 East Tulsa homicide

Thursday, April 25th 2002, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

A crime victim who's never received justice is a Tulsa housewife and mother. She died a brutal death in her own home in 1987. Police never found her killer, and the murder has haunted her son and daughter ever since.

News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright has the exclusive report on one of Tulsa's cold case homicides. 38-year-old Candayce Woodward lived in an east Tulsa neighborhood with her husband and kids. She didn't have any enemies, didn't owe anyone money, hadn't done anybody wrong, yet someone wanted her dead.

We have never before released information that detectives hope will help them finally solve this case. By all accounts, Candayce Woodward was a loving mother to her young son and teenage daughter, she worked in her church and cared for those around her.

The police photos inside her home show she kept it neat and clean. Her son, Doug, only 11 at the time, remembers January 7th, 1987 like it was yesterday. "My dad asked us to get in the police car. I sat on his lap and he said, Mom's dead." Candayce had been babysitting a three-year-old neighbor girl and pictures from that day show a half eaten bowl of cereal on the kitchen table.

Police say someone violently interrupted the normal routine of the day and beat Candayce to death with a hammer. They never found the murder weapon, but, they did find an outline of it in blood on Candayce's freshly laundered towels. Tulsa Police detective Mike Eubanks: "She had numerous defense wounds on her arms where her attacker, in the process of attacking her, did strike blows on her forearm, which were very apparent."

Police believe Candayce knew her attacker because there was no forced entry, no struggle, nothing stolen. They believe the sole motive of the crime was murder. Doug, "To just lose her in such a violent manner. The hardest thing I had to go through was going to the funeral home before the service. It was open casket. I still have a problem to this day going to funerals, brings back too many memories. I'm just flooded and overwhelmed."

Tulsa Police believe the suspect was in the construction business and learned that a man named James Thornbrugh might know something about the crime. Eubanks: "He was involved in the construction business in east Tulsa. Very possibly, other people in the construction business in 1987 may have overheard people talking about this crime, may have known Mr Thronbrough, we would like to talk to them."

As for Candyce's children, her murder changed their entire lives and having it go unsolved all these years, only adds to their pain and grief. Doug, "It's not knowing and not having closure. If they could say, this person did it and we can convict him or can't convict him, whatever happens, just to know, this is where it came from and maybe this is why it happened."

The little girl Candyce was babysitting that day actually picked a man out of a photo line-up as a suspect, but it wasn't enough to make an arrest because she was too young to be a credible witness in court. So, the case sits, waiting for one tiny piece of information to finish the puzzle.

If you have that information, please call Tulsa Crimestoppers at 596-COPS.

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