Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dayton Leroy Rogers

One That Got Away

In the meantime, on Monday, August 31st, Everett Banyard, 46, a crossbow hunter in pursuit of prey on a private 90,000-acre timber farm southeast of Molalla, Oregon, nearly stumbled over the nude, partlyburied body of a young woman. The body, in an advanced state of decomposition, was partially covered with brush. Unnerved by his gruesome discovery, the hunter left the forest as quickly as possible and reported his find to the Clackamas County authorities.

When investigators arrived at the remote sitea recreation area near the Molalla River that is popular with fishermen, swimmers, hunters, hikers, and other outdoors typesthe bow hunter led them up an old dirt logging road through the rugged mountain forest, mixed with evergreens and deciduous trees, to a nearly vertical slope where he'd discovered the body. Even though it was a little difficult to get to, the investigators had no trouble finding the corpse.

John Turner, back to camera, with Sheriff Brill Brooks (Clackamas Sheriff's Dept.)
John Turner, back to
camera, with Sheriff Brill
Brooks (Clackamas Sheriff's
Dept.)

At first glance, the detectives couldn't tell if the body had been buried by the forces of nature or if someone had attempted to conceal it. But one thing was certainshe was a murder victim.

Due to the lateness of the hour, no attempt was made to search the crime scene that evening. Instead, deputies were posted nearby as sentries to protect the scene until criminalists arrived the next morning.

Shortly after a search for evidence began the next day, searchers found two more corpses within 50 feet of each other, in the same general area as the first. The scene appeared to be a "cluster dump" similar to those used by the Green River serial killer in Washington State. Unsure of what they were dealing with here, the investigators temporarily halted the search while Colt, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department's tracking dog, was brought in to assist in the search for more bodies.

Investigators searching the forest area (Clackamas Sheriff's Dept)
Investigators searching the forest
area (Clackamas Sheriff's Dept)

Over the next five days, a total of seven female corpses were brought down from the forest ridge. All were nude when found, and all bore signs of stabbing, torture, and mutilation. Some of the victims feet had been crudely removed at the ankle with what appeared to be a blade with a serrated edge, like that of a hacksaw. One victims foot had been cut approximately two-thirds of the way through the bone, with the remainder broken off. This prompted the detectives to consider that the perpetrator had sawed these womens feet off while they were still alive and conscious in an attempt to elicit additional pain and sufferinghowever, the one victim whose bone had only been partially sawed through and then broken the rest of the way likely had gone into shock, and the breaking of the bone had likely been a last-ditch attempt at breaking through the shock barrier to elicit one final response to pain. Each of the victims were in varying degrees of decomposition, but two were markedly more advanced, having been there considerably longer than the others.

Investigators find scattered remains of Rogers' victims (Clackamas County Sheriff's Dept.)
Investigators find scattered remains
of Rogers' victims (Clackamas
County Sheriff's Dept.)

Despite the striking similarities between the female victims on the Molalla forest slope and Jennifer Smithnudity, signs of stabbing, torture, mutilationthe detectives didnt, at least at first, focus on Dayton Leroy Rogers as a possible suspect. He was in jail, charged with a different murder. However, as Detective Turner walked around the forest site he soon spotted miniature vodka bottles, an old package that they had been purchased in, and disposable orange juice bottlesthe same kind found in the back of Dayton Rogers pickup. As a result, it didn't take long for Turner to begin focusing on Dayton Rogers as the prime suspect in the Molalla forest murders. He also reasoned that, when all was said and done, many if not most of the Molalla forest victims would turn out to have a history of prostitution arrests.

The dead, it turned out, were identified over the next several months as Lisa Marie Mock, 23; Maureen Ann Hodges, 26; Christine Lotus Adams, 35; Nondace Kae Cervantes, 26, a.k.a. Noni Kae Austin; Reatha Gyles,16; Cynthia Diane DeVore, 21. One victim remains unidentified to this day. And just as Turner had figured, most of the victims had either worked as prostitutes at the time of their deaths, or they had arrest records for prior prostitution offenses. Some were heroin addicts. Only one had no links to prostitution or drugs.

Top Row: Lisa Mock, Maureen Hodges, Christine Adams. Bottom Row: Christine Adams, Nondace Cervantes, Reatha Gyles
Top Row: Lisa Mock,
Maureen Hodges, Christine Adams
Bottom Row: Christine Adams,
Nondace Cervantes, Reatha Gyles

At the time of the gruesome discovery in the Molalla forest, the investigators wouldn't say what they had for evidence against Rogers. However, one source close to the investigation maintained that he was the prime suspect in the forest murders and that they had enough evidence to bring him to trial in those killings, but they wanted to wait and see how his trial for the murder of Jennifer Smith turned out before charging him with the Molalla forest murders.

 

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