The unsolved 1959 rape and murder of 9-year-old Candy Rogers is a story that’s burned into Spokane’s collective consciousness.
It has never been forgotten – not by residents, not by police.
Brian Hamond is the latest in generations of Spokane police detectives to look for Rogers’ killer. He was born shortly after Rogers died, and remembers hearing her tragic story over and over after he moved here at age 13.
The crime still evokes visceral emotions among parents: fear, anger, loathing, sorrow, protectiveness.
Never before, police said when Rogers disappeared, had they received so many reports of suspicious people and vehicles.
Many police officers and sheriff’s deputies volunteered to work the case on their own time, and more than 1,200 citizens helped search for Rogers.
The search led to tragedy even before Rogers’ body was found 16 days after she was abducted on March 6, 1959. Three Fairchild Air Force Base airmen – Lt. Kenneth C. Fauteck, Sgt. William A. McDonnell and Airman Marlice D. Ray – died when their search helicopter struck an electric line and plunged into the Spokane River.
Then, in June 1963, Rogers’ father, Carl P. Rogers Jr., committed suicide in Walla Walla. He had been divorced from her mother, Mead High School teacher Elaine Rogers, and was in Milton-Freewater, Ore., when his daughter was killed.
Elaine Rogers died last September.
The key element of the story passed from parents to children and from longtime residents to newcomers is the innocence of a child going door to door to sell Camp Fire Girls mints.
Boxes of mints were found along Pettet Drive on what is now Bloomsday’s “Doomsday Hill.” The bulk of the boxes were at the bottom of the hill, near the T.J. Meenach Bridge over the Spokane River.
In later years, the account inevitably included comparisons with the murder of 13-year-old Nanette Martin. She was abducted early on April 3, 1976, while delivering The Spokesman-Review – 12 blocks from where Rogers was last seen.
Spokane police Detective Robert Bailor found Martin’s dismembered body two days later when he followed up a hunch that she was the victim of a copycat crime. Thomas Edward Mahrt, now 60, pleaded guilty in June 1976 to kidnapping and murdering Martin. He is serving two consecutive life terms at the Airway Heights Corrections Center and won’t be eligible for release until 2096.
Spokane got another shock in October 1978 when the mostly nude body of 16-year-old Krisann Baxter, 4222 W. Rowan Ave., was found in a pine grove near Whitworth University. Like Rogers and Martin, Baxter had been strangled.
One of the suspects in Baxter’s murder also was investigated in connection with Rogers, but he was ruled out in both cases.
There was yet another echo of the Rogers case exactly six years after Nanette Martin disappeared.
An 8-year-old Brownie Scout was kidnapped and raped on April 3, 1982, while selling Girl Scout cookies in front of a 7-Eleven store at the corner of Monroe and Garland.
Her attacker took the $46 she had earned in cookie sales before releasing her on North Division Street.