Spokane police detectives say they have the answer to a question that’s lingered for more than 60 years: Who killed 9-year-old Candy Rogers?
The Spokane Police Department will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday to unveil the person they suspect is responsible for Rogers’ death and to explain how they solved one of the oldest cold cases in the state of Washington. The police department will broadcast the conference live on Facebook.
Candice “Candy” Elaine Rogers, a fourth-grade Holmes Elementary School student, went missing the evening of March 6, 1959, while selling Camp Fire Girls mints near her 2106½ W. Mission Ave. home.
Rogers was the daughter of Elaine and Carl Rogers Jr., who were divorced at the time of her disappearance.
Carl Rogers, 44, killed himself in June 1963 with a revolver at a hotel in Walla Walla. Elaine Rogers died in September 2006, according to her obituary.
Hundreds of volunteers and police scoured the area from Fort George Wright onward in the search.
The Spokesman-Review then reported that every available police officer, detective and sheriff’s deputy were assigned to the case during the height of the 24/7 search, while former Bishop of Spokane Bernard Topel and Episcopal Bishop Russell Hubbard pleaded through media outlets for people to bring forward information on Rogers to a priest or minister under confidential privilege.
Less than a day after she was reported missing, three occupants of a Fairchild Air Force Base helicopter died when the aircraft struck a power line and crashed into the water while they were searching a nearby section of the Spokane River.
Rogers’ body was found just over two weeks later March 22 about 3½ miles northwest of Spokane Falls Community College under a pile of pine needles and boughs about 200 yards south of an abandoned rock quarry and 130 feet off Old Trails Road.
Investigators at the time determined she had been raped before she was strangled with a piece of her petticoat. Another length of the petticoat had been used to bind her legs together.
Among the evidence found was grape-smelling gum smeared on Rogers’ sweater and coat.
The gum was among evidence linking Rogers’ death to Hugh Bion Morse, a serial killer who is known to have murdered at least four women, including two from Spokane.
Morse denied involvement in Rogers’ death, according to archive reports, and though he had a penchant for grape-flavored gum, DNA evidence that became available in 2001 didn’t match a 2002 sample from Morse.
Morse died in a Minnesota prison in April 2003 while serving two life sentences.
By 2008, when the case was assigned to Spokane police Det. Brian Hamond, about half of the suspects that Hamond was actively investigating were already dead.
One suspect Hamond identified was 50-year-old Alfred Graves, who lived on North Cannon Street. Graves, who suffocated himself with carbon monoxide in his car the day Rogers’ body was found, was never cleared by DNA testing.
Hamond at the time said Graves was accused of attempting inappropriate contact with women. Meanwhile, newspaper clippings about molested women and children were found in his room, while bobby pins and sections of rope were found in the trunk of his car – of note, Hamond said, was a photograph of Rogers’ body showing marks that appeared to indicate a rope had been tied around her waist. No rope was found with her body.
The other was 49-year-old Sinto Avenue resident James Howard Barnett, who hanged himself in a Spokane County Jail cell in February 1960 four days following his arrest on suspicion of a sex crime against a child.
His widow reportedly told officers, “That (expletive) killed Candy Rogers, didn’t he?”
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