Cold Case Murder of Candy Rogers, 9-Years-Old, Solved After 62 years

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Candy Rogers, nine years old, was selling campfire mints at the time she vanished. Sixteen days later, her body was discovered. Her body was found after she had been strangled to death and raped in her own clothes. According to the Spokane Police Department, it was 1959. This makes it one of Washington’s oldest cold cases.

Hunters discovered her shoes seven-miles away from her house and police found her dead body covered with pine brush and pine the next day. 

Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in a manhunt after hundreds of tips came pouring in all over the county. The search for Rogers’s killer went on for decades. Police, however, were never able to establish probable cause for arrest on any of a number of suspects. Her killer was never found.

Spokane Police Department made the shocking announcement on Friday at a Press conference that Rogers case has been solved after 62 years. They revealed that John Reigh Hoff, who was 20 at the time, raped and killed Candice “Candy” Elaine Rogers. 

Spokane Police Department. Zac Storment said that Hoff’s surviving wife and daughter helped investigators solve the cold case by submitting DNA samples. Hoff’s body had also been exhumed. DNA was retrieved, and investigators had Rogers’ DNA, that had been preserved for six decades. A match was found through forensic genealogy: Hoff was the one responsible for the death of the young girl.

According to The Spokane Review, Hoff had been a troubled adolescent. At 16, he had escaped from a state boys’ training camp near Olympia, the publication reported.

He had also never been a suspect in Rogers’ killing. In the 1960s, Rogers married and began a family. However, trouble continued to follow him.  According to the, he committed suicide on June 30, 1970 by shooting himself in his head. Spokane Daily Chronicles archive.

During the press conference, a short video was shown that explained how the case was resolved.

Hoff’s daughter, speaking on camera to a reporter about her father, said she was in “disbelief,”When she found out that her father was the one who had committed the crime, she was shocked.

“Not that I didn’t believe it. It takes a while for it to sink in,” said Hoff’s daughter, who was 9 years old when her father committed suicide, and the same age Rogers was when she was killed. 

“I feel anger and sadness. You can’t believe someone in your family can do something like that. I spent my life thinking he was depressed that is why he committed suicide,” she wept.

She added: “He was evil. He got to die people thinking he was an upstanding man but he wasn’t.”

After the case was solved, Det. Storment went to Rogers’ family members to share the news. A cousin said through tears, “It was a horrible loss. She was so cute. And she didn’t have much time.”

At the press briefing, Lieutenant Troy Teigen, Commander for the Spokane Police Department, said three generations of law enforcement had been working on this cold case and called the day “a special day for our Spokane community.”

“Nothing like this should ever happen to a child. Anytime, anywhere and yet it did. Her family and friends will be considered the next victims in the case. They had to live with this their entire time and now they can finally get some peace in the resolution.”

Teigen said he had a message for those people who “perpetuate these types of heinous crimes.”

“I want you to know that we will find you. We are persistent and will not give up. In life or in death …you will be found.”