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Murder suspect says he ‘snapped’

Man faces charges in ex-girlfriend’s death

A man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend told detectives he “snapped” while the two were arguing near a hayfield last week and attacked her, according to court papers filed Friday in Stevens County Superior Court.

Preston Lee Rogers Jr., 42, was charged Friday with premeditated first-degree murder with a deadly weapon enhancement.

Stevens County sheriff’s deputies found him about 3:30 p.m. July 14, bloody and facedown on the side of Springdale-Hunters Road about a mile west of the summit, according to court documents. One deputy recognized him from a previous suicide attempt.

A blue 1986 Subaru station wagon belonging to the victim, Cheryl Lynn Hayward, was about 50 feet south of the road and appeared to have plowed into two trees, according to Deputy Mike Swim.

Deputies found Hayward’s bloody purse in the car.

Less than two hours later, family friend Karl Miller called to report the 28-year-old missing.

A media release was issued the next day seeking information on her whereabouts. Detectives searched the home the couple had shared for several years and found a bloody sleeveless red shirt. The shirt looked like the one surveillance video showed Rogers wearing at the Deer Park pharmacy Hayward drove him to the day she went missing.

One week later, Rogers was arrested after being released from Sacred Heart Medical Center’s psychiatric ward. He led detectives about 30 yards up a path north of a dirt road near Springdale and pointed to Hayward’s body. A large hunting knife, Ruger .22-caliber rifle, cell phone and medications were found next to her body. An autopsy showed she died of a stab wound to the throat, according to Stevens County Deputy Prosecutor John Troberg.

Miller told detectives Hayward had recently ended a long-term relationship with Rogers and was dating another man. That man told deputies Hayward said her ex-boyfriend had said “if he could not have her, no one would,” according to court papers.

Troberg said Rogers is expected to plead innocent by reason of insanity.

Rogers told detectives he and Hayward stopped at a hayfield near Emily’s Way and Cemetery Road after picking up his medication in Deer Park, because Hayward wanted to check out some hay she was thinking about buying.

“When he realized she was dead, he took her out of the driver’s seat and placed her in the passenger seat of the Subaru,” according to court papers. “He then drove further up the road, removed her from the vehicle and placed her where she was discovered.”

Friends and family described Hayward as an animal lover with a big heart.

When her family moved, Hayward refused to join them and ran away to live with Rogers, said Carol Hayward, who married Cheryl Hayward’s father, Roger, 12 years ago.

But the family stayed in contact with her.

Hayward e-mailed her stepmother July 7, talking of her plans. She promised to tell her about her new boyfriend soon.

The Haywards will be in Springdale on Sunday to gather their daughter’s belongings. A memorial service hasn’t been scheduled.

“We’re shocked. We’re angry. We’re hurt,” Carol Hayward said.

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached (509) 459-5534 or at meghannc@spokesman.com.


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