Local News

Boyfriend Charged With Murder Of Four Oaks Woman

Posted May 20, 2004

— The boyfriend of a young mother found dead along Interstate 40 in Sampson County is in custody after being charged with her murder.

On Thursday, deputies arrested Derrick Thomas Canaday in Johnston County. Authorities said 24-year-old Merritt Ennis willingly left a Raleigh concert with Canaday Friday night. Later that night, a driver found Ennis' body along the side of I-40 in Sampson County.

Investigators said an argument broke out between Canaday and Ennis while they were in the car. They said Canaday assaulted Ennis and during that altercation, Ennis was ejected from the vehicle. The medical examiner's office said she died from head trauma.

Authorities said Canaday and Ennis had a history of violence in their relationship. Cannady was charged with domestic violence against Ennis nearly three weeks ago.

"I think some threats were clearly documented in the reports to the Johnston County Sheriff's Office and the Johnston County District Attorney's Office about the domestic violence that occurred between them," said Jay Tilley, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation.

Authorities said Canaday also has a past criminal record. He was recently released from prison in February.

Investigators said Ennis' home has been burglarized twice since her death, and Canaday is a suspect in one of those break-ins.

Cannady is currently being held without bond at the Sampson County Jail.

Ennis leaves behind a 3-month-old son.

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