Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dayton Leroy Rogers

One That Got Away

Meanwhile, acting on a tip from one of Rogers' relatives, investigators returned to the suspect's Woodburn auto-repair shop, where they sifted ashes from a wood stove in Rogers' office. There they found what appeared to be remnants of a burned tennis shoe. Analysis later determined that metal parts found in the wood stove closely matched the metal parts of the shoe that was discovered in the parking lot where Jennifer Smith was murdered. They also found pieces of colored glass, rhinestones, and star-shaped grommets inside the stove, their sources unknown.

Rogers' truck had been impounded shortly after his arrest, after warrants had been obtained, and it was carefully searched for evidence. According to criminalists, there was blood inside the cab of the pickup, numerous knife cuts on the dashboard, upholstery, ceiling, and passenger door. They also found a single fingerprint matching that of Jennifer Smith's right ring finger on the outside handle of the passenger door. The examination and search also turned up a small green band in the bed of the pickup; they later determined it had come from a small container of ready-to-drink orange juice.

Wounds to Rogers' hands
Wounds to Rogers' hands

Next, in their efforts to build a stronger case against Rogers, the detectives went to Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City to see how much of the suspect's story about his wounded hand was true. After questioning the emergency room doctor who had attended to the wounds, the detectives learned that the cuts were not jagged as they would have been if a hacksaw blade had made them. They had been smooth and clean, more like wounds that would have been caused by a knife blade.

Although gut feelings told the investigators that Rogers was their man, they nonetheless assembled a photo lay-down, a group of six photographs of men, including Rogers, who had similar appearances. They displayed the lay-down to eyewitness Michael Fielding; it took him less than 20 seconds to identify Dayton Rogers as the man he saw stop briefly under a streetlight as he fled the Dennys restaurant parking lot.

Because Jennifer Smith was a known prostitute and because of Rogers' continued interest in hookers, detectives hit Portlands streets and interviewed as many hookers as they could, focusing their attention on those who knew Jennifer. Not surprisingly, the detectives found several who knew Rogers, too.

Many of the hookers that the detectives talked to identified Rogers from a photo lay-down; several said he'd told them his name was Steve. One of the women even told investigators that she saw Jennifer Smith walk toward his pickup, as if to get inside, three hours before she was found murdered.

The detectives learned that he nearly always told the girls he was a professional gambler, usually saying that he was from Las Vegas but sometimes saying that he was from Reno, and that he typically offered $40 to $80 for a sexual scenario that involved bondage. He always had the girls completely undress, after which he bound their hands and feet at the wrists and ankles with rope, dog collars, wire, nylon stockings, shoe laces, and the likeanything that would hold their arms and feet securely in place. But many said that Rogers went far beyond bondage, subjecting them to intense physical pain, torture, even mutilation.

One prostitute told the detectives that Rogers had a foot fetish and found women's arches sexually arousing. An interesting point, the detectives noted, considering that Jennifer Smith was barefoot when her body was found. 0ther prostitutes said that all of the "dates" occurred in the cab of Rogers' pickup, and Rogers usually began by drinking vodka and orange juice. He usually stopped at a convenience store, said the hookers, where he bought ready-to-drink juice in small plastic containers.

One of the prostitutes accompanied a detective to a convenience store and picked out the brand of orange juice Rogers usually bought, in small plastic containers with green plastic caps security-sealed with green bands, just like the one found in the bed of Rogers' pickup. He usually bought the vodka in the individual serving, one-and-a-half-ounce bottles, like those served by airlines.

One hooker told the detectives that Rogers picked her up and agreed to pay her $50 for straight sex. Instead, he tied her hands and feet and tortured her for hours by biting her on the breasts, buttocks, and feet, hard enough to draw blood. Another prostitute said she was subjected to the same type of treatment, except that he threatened to cut off her breasts with a knife. Yet another hooker told the detectives that Rogers cut off her clothes with a machete, and another said he cut the heel of her foot with a carving knife. One of the women said that he had subjected her to so much pain during a six-hour ordeal that she'd asked him to kill her. All of the women said that Rogers liked to masturbate during the encounters.

From the definitive autopsy of Jennifer Smith's body, Dr. Karen Gunson, Deputy State Medical Examiner, determined that there were at least 11 knife wounds to the victim's body, 10 of which were very deep. The medical examiner said that there were eight stab wounds to the front of Jennifer's body, one of which severed a major artery on the left side of her chest and was likely the cause of death.

Jennifer also sustained slashing wounds to both of her breasts, two deep stab wounds to her abdomen that pierced her stomach, and a V-shaped stab wound in her back that pierced her liver. Dr. Gunson explained that the V-shaped wound might have been caused by two stabs that had overlapped.

Jennifer Smith's wounded hands
Jennifer Smith's wounded

The victim also had slash wounds to both of her hands that cut all the way to the bone, wounds which Dr. Gunson described as defensive injuries caused when the victim tried to grab the knife blade from her attacker or otherwise tried to prevent him from stabbing her. Jennifer's throat had also been slit.

"There were other wounds," said Dr. Gunson, including two quarter-inch-wide bruises around both wrists. These bruises indicated that Jennifer had been tied up, perhaps with the shoelaces found at the crime scene. Gunson said that "a significant amount of pressure" must have been applied to Jennifer's wrists for such bruising to occur.

After the investigators presented their case to a Clackamas County grand jury, Dayton Leroy Rogers was indicted on a charge of aggravated murder in the death of Jennifer Smith. The indictment alleged that Rogers murdered Smith during the course of rape, kidnapping, sexual abuse, and torture. It also alleged that Rogers killed Smith to cover up the other crimes.

Rogers retained Attorney Arthur B. Knauss of Oregon City to represent him, and he pleaded innocent to the charges. He was held without bail.

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