Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dayton Leroy Rogers

One That Got Away

It has been said that blood lust is an aberration unique to the human animal, that whenit occurs, it does so without purpose and has no reverence for the normal needs intrinsic to humankind survival. The aberrationfor that is what it really isis clearly sexual violence and all evil, and it rears its diabolic head when its host fails to achieve sexual gratification in any other way. As a result, manyparticularly women and childrenwho unwittingly come into contact with such an individual, die needlessly and without mercy at his hands.

Dayton Leroy Rogers (Canby Herald)
Dayton Leroy Rogers (Canby

Dayton Leroy Rogers, 33-years-old when his blood lust neared its peak, was fearsomely known to many of Portland, Oregons prostitutes as "Steve the gambler" and has been afflicted by bloodlust since his late teens, perhaps longer. It usually materialized in the form of a headache, inflicting on him a splitting, blinding white pain, and perhaps he was always subconsciously aware that only the sight of another's pain, the sounds of her anguish, or, ultimately, the spilling of her blood would relieve his own suffering. When the headaches began, the only way to make them go away was to let his dark side fully emerge.

Dayton seemed personable enough on the surface, as long as he wasn't in the midst of one of his mood swings. He was well known in the small communities of Woodburn and Canby, and people seemed to like him. A mechanic by trade, a skill he had learned in prison, Dayton ran a small successful engine repair business, was married, and had an eighteen-month-old boy who was a mirror image of him. Few people saw the evil that lay beneath the thin veneer, and many of those who were unlucky enough to witness his dark side firsthand did not live to talk about it.

Dayton's headaches seemed to worsen during the summer of 1987 and for that reason he was away from home much of the time. He claimed that he was working at his shop during his absences, which ranged from a few hours to all night, and his wife, Sherry, saw little reason, at first, to doubt him. When she would call to check up on him in the early evening, he usually answered the telephone. On the occasions that he didn't, he always had an excuse. He would explain that he had been in the middle of a project and hadn't wanted to leave it to pick up the phone. Or, more commonly, he would tell Sherry that he had gone out to get coffee, perhaps a bite to eat, anything that would convince her he was only taking a break to get away from the shop for a while. Often, however, he waited until it was very late, until he was certain that Sherry was in bed and fast asleep, before beginning the prowl. Soon his working late became routine, a way of life, and Sherry's phone calls became less frequent. Although she began to hear stories about him frequenting the local taverns and bars, she tried very hard to maintain the faith she had always had in him. She might have become suspicious of his activities sooner if only she had taken the trouble to check the mileage on his pickup. But she hadn't, and he put more miles on the truck in a single week than most people drive in a month.

August 6, a Thursday, started out for the Rogers family like most other days. Dayton got up early, showered and shaved, had a light breakfast, and drove to his small engine repair shop in Woodburn before 8 a.m. Outwardly, he seemed happy. Business had picked up during the summer to the point where he had to hire a man to help him, and several new repair orders were coming in every day. Soon, however, he began to feel the pressures of the backlog despite the new help, and his headaches became more frequent, as did his nocturnal outings. At times Sherry found herself wondering what had come over him, seeing him sitting quietly and staring into space, but she never said anything. Even though she had heard rumors about him carousing the nightspots and secretly feared that he may have been seeing other women, she somehow convinced herself that the pressures from his business had become too great, and she didn't want to do or say anything that might add to his troubles.

It wasn't until later that afternoon that the pounding inside Dayton's head became more than he could bear. He had to do something to stop the headache. He left his assistant in charge of the shop and drove to the liquor store at the North Park Plaza in Woodburn, where he purchased a ten-pack of Smirnoff vodka miniatures to replace the depleted stock he normally kept behind the seat of his pickup. He also purchased a couple of bottles of orange juice, the type in the disposable plastic bottles that he liked so well. He drank one of his crudely mixed screwdrivers quickly, and the headache subsided a little. Afterward, he returned to his shop and waited, thinking and planning the rest of the evening. He needed something more effective than the alcohol for his headache. The remedies were there, he knew, out in numbers on Portland's streets, his for the asking and a $50 bill. It had all been so easy with all of the others that there was no stopping him now.

At 8:30 p.m. Dayton drove home, where he had dinner with Sherry and his son. He explained that he had to return to the shop and work very late, perhaps into the early morning hours, to catch up on some of the overdue work. Sherry, an attractive curly-haired silver brunette at five feet four inches tall, 120 pounds, and three years younger than Dayton, didn't protest. She never did. Devoutly religious and somewhat naive, she always trusted her husband and rarely questioned his activities.

Half an hour later Dayton was gone. He stopped off at his shop, had a couple more drinks, and tinkered with some of the easier repair projects to kill time. Shortly after midnight he changed into his stepping-out clothes that he kept inside his special closet, and waited inside the shop a little longer until he was certain that Sherry had gone to bed. By 12:30 a.m. he was heading toward Portland.

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