Detectives Solve Girl’s Murder 6 Decades Later

SPOKANE, Wash. — Police in eastern Washington solved a crime that happened 62 years ago. They say they know who did it and why.

The Spokane Police Department used advanced DNA analysis and traditional detective work to find the person who killed Candice “Candy” Elaine Rogers in 1959. John Reigh Hoff died in 1970.

Major Crimes Detective Zac Storment said, “This is the case that has been the giant log jam for cold cases.” He also said, “Nobody ever forgot about this case.”

This case began in 1959. A girl was selling Camp Fire Girls mints in Spokane. It was about 4 p.m., and she disappeared.

Two hunters found Rogers shoes northwest of Spokane after 16 days. They looked at them. Then they found the girl’s body hidden in a pile of pine needles and tree boughs. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

“We hope that solving this case brings comfort and closure to the family and to the people in our community,” Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said.

The crime was unsolved for six decades. Detectives made progress along the way. More than 40 years after the crime, investigators were able to get DNA from body fluids on Roger’s clothes. They ruled out one suspect but didn’t find matches in a federal database.

Detectives tried again because technology improved.

The Candy Rogers DNA was hard to crack. We gave it to another lab last year, in 2020, but they said the DNA is too damaged and cannot be analyzed.

Earlier this year, police talked to a company called Osram. They are able to build up your family tree using DNA. Police narrowed the list of possible suspects down to three brothers, including Hoff.

Hoff’s daughter helped the police find who did it. When she found out that her father was a suspect, she volunteered to give them samples of her DNA to help with the investigation.

Analysts looked at the DNA in Hoff’s daughter and found that she was 2.9 million times more likely to be related to the DNA on Rogers’ clothes than someone else is. This led them to get a search warrant for Hoff’s body, which allowed law enforcement to know who killed Rogers.

Rogers’ parents died before they found out who committed the crime.

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