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 Mary Ellen <I>Kanihan</I> Prater

Mary Ellen Kanihan Prater

Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California, USA
Death 24 Aug 1974 (aged 20)
Sunol, Alameda County, California, USA
Burial Hurricane, Washington County, Utah, USA
Memorial ID 51287 · View Source
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Mary Ellen is the daughter of George John Kanihan (1911-1985) and Frances Dorene Bailey (1924-2000). She is one of three children: Roger, Gregory and Mary Ellen.

She married Alvin Lloyd Prater (1946-1974) on 11 Aug 1974 in Santa Rosa, CA.
Handcuffed Slain Couple Identified

SUNOL - The young couple whose bodies were found on a lonely road here Sunday were identified today as newlyweds, Alvin and Mary Ellen Prater.

Their late model white Ford is missing and its discovery may provide a clue to the brutal killer who manacled their hands behind them before firing a single bullet to the head of each.

Prater, 29, and Mary Ellen, 20, were married in Santa Rosa, her home town, just three weeks before their death.

His mother, Mrs. Stella Prater, reached at her home in Hurricane, Utah, today said the pair might have given a ride to a hitchhiker.

"They were very helpful, they thought they should help everyone they could," she said.

Just before his marriage, Prater moved his silversmith equipment from Eureka, where he had been living, to an apartment in Santa Rosa and prepared to resume his trade there. His mother said she has no idea why the couple was in Sunol or who they might have met.

The couple owned a 1970 or '71 white Ford, which has not been found, she said.

Prater had served a hitch in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He was born in southern Utah, but raised in Sacramento.

Mary Ellen's mother, Mrs. Frances Kanihan, gave a bridal shower for the pair in Santa Rosa just 10 days ago, Mrs. Prater recalled.

Alameda County Sheriff's investigators said the young people were slain "execution style."

There were bruises on their upper arms as if they had been struck or mauled before they were killed.

Their bodies, stripped of identification, were found by a motorcyclist near the blind end of old Vallecitos Road about a mile from its interseciton with Interstate 680.

Oakland Tribune | Oakland, California | Tuesday, August 27, 1974 | Page 1
Rites Tomorrow for Slain Couple

SUNOL - Mary Ellen Prater would have been 21 tomorrow, but instead of a birthday party there will be a joint funeral service for Mary Ellen and her bridegroom, Alvin Prater.

The newlyweds were murdered on a deserted country road here sometime during the weekend. Each had been handcuffed and shot once through the head.

Alameda County sheriff's investigators have virtually no leads to the slayer or slayers of the young pair.

It was only by chance that they were identified as soon as they were. Their killer had stripped them of all identification.

But Mary Ellen's mother, Mrs. George Kanihan of Santa Rosa, explained the circumstances.

"The couple was married very quickly - they'd only known each other six weeks - and we had a party for them a week ago Sunday to welcome Alvin to the family.

"At the party I gave Mary Ellen a little gift. It was a tiny birth announcement set in plastic. It measured, oh, about 1-1/2 by 2 or 3 inches. It just said 'Mr. and Mrs. George Kanihan, Aug. 29, 1953, a girl'.

"I'd carried it in my purse over 20 years. Well, she had that shoved way deep in her pocket and that's what the police found."

Authorities estimated they had been dead up to 48 hours before being found.

Each had been shot below the right ear with a 45-caliber gun, according to Deputy Coroner John Prindeville.

Prater, 27, was a self-employed silversmith who moved to Santa Rosa from Eureka at the time of their marriage three weeks ago. His family lives in Hurricane, Utah.

Mary Ellen was born and raised in Santa Rosa.

The funeral service will be conducted at Daniels Chapel of the Roses in Santa Rosa and their bodies sent to Utah for burial in his family plot.
Oakland Tribune | Oakland, California | Wednesday, August 28, 1974 | Page 7

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  • Maintained by: Nancy Poppin Umland
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 51287
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Ellen Kanihan Prater (29 Aug 1953–24 Aug 1974), Find A Grave Memorial no. 51287, citing Hurricane City Cemetery, Hurricane, Washington County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Nancy Poppin Umland (contributor 46816302) .