A California man has been arrested in the 2011 slayings of a Columbia woman and her 3-year-old daughter, who were found dead at what officials described as a “gruesome” crime scene.
Kenneth Canzater, 33, of Perris, Calif., was arrested last week in California and will be charged with the murders of Candra Alston, 25, and her daughter Malaysia Boykin, police said Thursday. Columbia police officers arrested Canzater outside a motel in Corona, Calif., on March 23. He is jailed in Riverside, Calif., awaiting extradition.
Alston and Malaysia were found dead in Alston’s home at Brook Pines Apartments off Broad River Road on Jan. 9, 2011, in what Chief Skip Holbrook called “a truly horrific crime scene.” Holbrook said Alston was shot in the head, and Malaysia, known by family members as “La La,” had been stabbed multiple times.
Holbrook described Canzater as an acquaintance of Alston and said the suspect admitted to knowing and spending time with Alston and her daughter. He declined to comment on a possible motive.
“I think it would be speculation to say there was a particular motive,” he said.
Alston’s father made the grisly discovery after going to the apartment when the family had not heard from Alston for several days. Holbrook said investigators believe they were killed two days earlier.
Police have said Alston had a large network of friends on Facebook and MySpace, and investigators later learned she had advertised herself as an escort on Backpage.com.
Within weeks of the killings, police identified Canzater as an acquaintance of Alston, Holbrook said. He told investigators he knew Alston and her daughter but had not been in their home since Dec. 31, 2010.
In February 2011, Canzater was arrested in California on a probation violation stemming from a 2005 robbery conviction, Holbrook said.
Columbia police later asked the State Law Enforcement Division to review crime scene photos and blood splatter patterns, and SLED investigators in March 2013 identified a usable palm print, Holbrook said. Testing was inconclusive, but investigators decided recently to retest the print because of advances in technology. A test last month revealed a positive match for Canzater, Holbrook said.
“We knew God would come to vindicate this family,” family friend Sharon Williams said at Thursday’s news conference. “This family can sleep well tonight knowing that whomever did this to their family members will not get away, will not walk away scot-free.”
Family members did not speak with reporters Thursday. As Alston’s grandmother sobbed on a loved one’s shoulder, another family member picked up a large picture of Canzater’s mugshot that sat on an easel near the podium, threw it to the floor and walked out.
Under South Carolina law, killing two or more people in the same act or killing a child under 11 are each considered aggravating factors that prosecutors can use to the seek the death penalty.