3:35 PM PST, November 19, 2021
Nine-year-old Candy Rogers was selling campfire mints when she disappeared. Sixteen days later her body was found. She had been raped and strangled to death with her own clothes. The year was 1959, making it one of the oldest cold cases in Washington State, according to the Spokane Police Department.
Hunters found her shoes seven miles away from her home and police found her body the following day covered in brush and pine.
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.
On Friday, the Spokane Police Department made the stunning announcement during 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 Det. 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. Through forensic genealogy, a match was determined: Hoff was the man responsible for killing 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, he eventually married and started a family, but trouble followed him. On June 30, 1970, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, according to the Spokane Daily Chronicles archives.
During the press conference, a video was shown explaining how the case was solved.
Hoff’s daughter, speaking on camera to a reporter about her father, said she was in “disbelief,” when she learned it was her father who committed the crime.
“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. That we are tenacious and we will never give up. In life or in death …you will be found.”