January 28, 2007 in City

Montana boy found drowned in septic tank

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

KALISPELL, Mont. – The body of a 3-year-old boy who disappeared outside a home near here was found in a septic tank late Friday, less than 10 feet from where he was reported missing two days earlier, Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan said Saturday.

An autopsy performed in Missoula showed Loic J.M. Rogers drowned, Meehan said.

The blond, blue-eyed boy was reported missing Wednesday night, and an Amber Alert was issued Thursday. The boy’s father, Mark Rogers, told police he took Loic out to his car outside a friend’s home and told the boy to get in, before going back into the house for Loic’s sister.

Rogers told investigators he was inside only for a minute, Meehan said Friday. When the father came back outside, the boy was gone. Rogers said he searched for about 20 minutes before calling law enforcement.

Authorities said Saturday they had looked in the septic tank during search efforts but did not see anything. They found the boy’s body after draining the tank, Meehan said.

The manhole-sized lid to the septic tank was closed. Meehan declined to characterize the boy’s death as a homicide, but he said investigators do not believe he could have climbed into the tank and put the lid back on.

One of the boy’s parents had taken a lie detector test, but FBI agent Rick Rasmussen would not say which one or release the results.

Meehan said it would likely take four to five days to complete the investigation.

In an interview with the (Kalispell) Daily Inter Lake, Ariel Rogers confirmed Friday that she and her husband are involved in a custody battle for their three children. Mark Rogers was given temporary custody during their separation.

“I want the kids and so does he,” Ariel Rogers said. “We love our children. (Mark) would never do anything to hurt our children.”

Ariel Rogers, who is expecting her fourth child, was hospitalized so doctors could monitor her after she learned of her son’s death.

A phone message left at a listing for Mark and Ariel Rogers on Saturday was returned by his sister, Sara Kavanagh, who declined to comment and said the family did not want to speak with the media.

Calls related to the boy’s disappearance swamped the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday and Friday, and hundreds of residents joined authorities in an extensive search that involved snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, search dogs and a helicopter.

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