Suspect’s Family Helps Crack Unsolved Killing From 1959

One Friday afternoon in 1959, Candice Rogers got here house from faculty, performed along with her canine, ate an oatmeal cookie after which got down to promote Camp Fire mints in her neighborhood in Spokane, Wash.

Candy, as she was identified, was 9 years outdated and a Bluebird, a youthful member of the Camp Fire Girls, a youth group targeted on out of doors actions.

When Candy didn’t return house by darkish, her grandfather, mom, associates and neighbors started to search for her, and have been quickly joined by law enforcement officials and sheriff’s deputies. Around 9 p.m., packing containers of Camp Fire mints, believed to be Candy’s, have been discovered strewn alongside a street.

Candy disappeared on March 6, 1959. Over the subsequent 16 days, hundreds of individuals looked for her. The effort included Marines, airmen and army plane, but additionally residents on foot and horseback. An Air Force helicopter concerned within the search crashed, killing three crew members.

On the ultimate weekend of the search, 1,200 individuals turned out.

On March 21, 1959, two off-duty airmen looking within the woods about seven miles from her home observed a pair of youngsters’s sneakers. The subsequent morning, the police returned to the realm and located Candy’s physique. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a bit of her personal clothes.

The crime rocked Spokane. Hundreds of ideas poured in however none led to Candy’s killer, irritating detectives who investigated the case decade after decade.

“I keep saying it’s the Mount Everest of our cold cases — the one that we could never seem to overcome, but at the same time nobody ever forgot,” stated Sgt. Zac Storment of the Spokane Police Department.

On Friday, greater than 62 years after Candy was killed, the Spokane police introduced that they’d solved the case with DNA proof and old style detective work.

The division recognized the suspect as John Reigh Hoff, who died by suicide in 1970, when he was 31. His daughter offered a DNA pattern that linked her father to semen that had been discovered on Candy’s clothes, which had been preserved as proof in an period lengthy earlier than the arrival of genetic testing at crime scenes.

Mr. Hoff, who was buried in the identical cemetery as Candy, was later exhumed, and a DNA pattern taken from his stays confirmed it was his semen, the police stated.

While the identification introduced some reduction to Candy’s few surviving kinfolk, Sergeant Storment stated that it was agonizing to have to inform Mr. Hoff’s widow and 4 youngsters that Mr. Hoff was answerable for such a heinous crime.

“I took those people’s lives and their childhood and dumped it on its head,” he stated at a information convention on Friday. “What they believed about their father and their growing up has been forever changed.”

Mr. Hoff grew up in Spokane and had a file of petty juvenile crime. He joined the Army when he was 17 and served in Korea as a listing clerk. He was 20 and lived a couple of mile away from Candy when she was killed in 1959.

In 1961, he was convicted of grabbing a lady, undressing her, tying her up along with her personal garments and strangling her earlier than fleeing, the police stated. She survived, and Mr. Hoff served six months in jail, the police stated.

As a results of the conviction, Mr. Hoff was declared a deserter and discharged from the Army, the police stated. He bought cutlery and labored in a lumber yard and a meatpacking plant, the place he suffered a chemical burn on his face.

It was not clear if Mr. Hoff knew Candy, Sergeant Storment stated, though they’d at the least one connection: Mr. Hoff’s stepsister, who was 10, was a Camp Fire Girl who served as Candy’s “big sister” in this system.

Sergeant Storment stated he had just lately spoken to the stepsister, now in her 70s, who recalled sitting subsequent to Mr. Hoff, crying and telling him how distraught she was at Candy’s dying.

Mr. Hoff’s daughter, Cathie, stated she felt disbelief, anger and disappointment to be taught that her father had been recognized because the suspect. She was 9 when he died.

“It’s just really sad to find out that someone — not even just your dad, but just someone in your family — could do something like that,” she stated in a videotaped interview with the Spokane police, which recognized her solely by her first title.

Cathie stated she had lived most of her life considering her father died by suicide as a result of he was depressed.

“And now I think, no, he was evil,” she stated. “It wasn’t an escape, in a way, from it, but he got to die with people thinking he was an upstanding man. And he wasn’t.”

A cousin of Candy’s, who was interviewed within the police video, stated: “I feel like Candy’s loss was just a horrible loss. She was so cute. And she didn’t have much time.”

Another relative, recognized solely as Cheryl, spoke of Candy’s dad and mom and grandparents, saying: “I think it’s really sad that they passed away with not knowing who had taken their granddaughter’s and daughter’s life.”

After Mr. Hoff’s physique was exhumed from the cemetery the place Candy had additionally been buried, his household had him reburied in a special cemetery.

“I’m very, very sorry for what my dad did, that he took her life, horribly,” Cathie, Mr. Hoff’s daughter, stated within the videotaped interview. “I hope that it gives her peace knowing that, even though it’s not really justice because he doesn’t get any punishment, but that his name has this on it now. And they can know it’s solved.”

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