Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dayton Leroy Rogers

One That Got Away

With the Molalla forest case looming in the future, the prosecution had another chance to get a death sentence for Dayton. It was the good guys' ace in the hole, and they would play it. For the next two months, Turner and his colleagues worked closely with the D.A.s office and presented the worst serial murder case in Oregon's history to a grand jury. On May 4, 1988, Dayton was indicted on several charges of aggravated murder under various theories of law for the deaths of Reatha Gyles, Lisa Mock, Noni Cervantes, Cynthia DeVore, Christine Adams, and Maureen Hodges. He was not charged in the death of the unidentified victim, although the investigators were certain that he had murdered her, too. As before, Dayton pleaded innocent. This time around Christopher E. Burris, not Arthur Knauss, was hired to represent him.

Turner and his fellow detectives spent the next eight months rounding up additional witnesses to interview, as well as reinterviewing many of the others. They carefully went over the evidence, and they put their case books in order. By the time the trial began, they knew the case frontward and backward.

Jury selection, which began on February 6, 1989, took nearly two months to complete. Ironically, considering the types of crimes Dayton was being charged with committing, an all-woman panel of twelve was seated, with an additional female as an alternate.

When the trial finally opened on March 30, 1989, this time in the courtroom of Clackamas County Circuit Judge Raymond R. Bagley Jr., Eglitis outlined his case for the jurors, contending that a knife identical to the one that was used to kill Jenny Smith was found near the Molalla forest victims' bodies. He described the torture, the grisly details of victims having their feet sawed or cut from their bodies, and how one, Noni Cervantes, had been eviscerated from a machete having been inserted in the area of her vagina and subsequently sliced up the middle to the sternum. By the time Eglitis was finished with his presentation of what the jury would be considering, there was little left for the imagination.

For the next five weeks, the jury heard horrifying testimony from many of the women whom Dayton Leroy Rogers had violated and tortured at one time or another but who had miraculously survived. Each explained in graphic detail, often tearfully, the atrocities that Dayton had committed against them.

One former prostitute testified about her fifth and final date with Dayton, an encounter that lasted in excess of six hours after he picked her up on Southeast 82nd Avenue and drove her to the Molalla forest.

"He got out of the truck," she testified, "and went over to the side where you could see over the forest. He said how beautiful it was. I went back to the truck and started to get undressed. He came up behind me and started to put the bondage devices on. When I told him they were too tight, that they were cutting into my wrists, he said that's what he wanted to do.

"He started biting on my breasts," she continued. "He was biting and tearing. I told him to please stop. 'That's too rough! This isn't right!' I cried and I begged for him to stop. And the more I pleaded and begged, the worse the abuse got. When I screamed too loudly, he became concerned and put something up against my neck, which I assumed was a knife. He told me to be quiet, or else I'd really have something to cry about. I didn't say anything, and I tried to stifle the sobs as much as I could."

"Did you say anything to the defendant?" asked Eglitis.


"What were you doing then?"

"Just existing."

One of Daytons relatives also testified, telling the jurors how he helped Dayton establish his business and then closed it down after Dayton's arrest. He told of how he found all of the suspicious items in the wood stove inside Dayton's shop, including items that appeared to be the metal inner portions of shoes. He burst into tears twice during his testimony and diverted his eyes away from Dayton most of the time he was on the witness stand.

In tears and in tones that were barely audible, Floria Adams, the fifteen-year-old daughter of victim Christine Adams, testified that decorative studs, star-shaped grommets that were found in Dayton's wood stove, came from her mother's pants. Sobbing, she told the jurors that she recognized the studs.

Bob Thompson, the Oregon State Police criminologist who worked closely on the case, explained how he had found pieces of colored glass in Lisa Mock's hair and how, although he hadn't been able to determine their source, they were similar to glass parts found inside Dayton's wood stove. He also testified that hairs found inside Dayton's pickup were macroscopically and microscopically similar to head hairs he compared from the remains of Lisa Mock, Noni Cervantes, and Cynthia DeVore.

"This man," said Eglitis in his closing argument, pointing at Dayton, this man is obsessed, totally consumed in a sexual way with a woman's feet and dominance. What is the ultimate act of dominance? It is to remove that foot. We submit that is what happened in the Molalla forest."

Eglitis also reminded the jurors about all of the orange juice containers and miniature liquor bottles found at the Molalla forest crime scene, insisting that they made up a part of Rogers"signature."

"If there is a signature to a crime, under those circumstances you can look at the signature," said Eglitis, "and see the identity of the killer. This evidence is the mark of Zorro. It's the signature. The defendant, ladies of the jury, not only committed these murders, but he might as well have written his name on the victims' corpses."

As in the Jenny Smith case, there had been little doubt at the trial's outset that Dayton would be convicted of the Molalla forest murders, which is precisely what happened on May 4. After barely six hours of deliberation, the jury found Dayton guilty of aggravated murder on all counts. For the first time in public, Dayton, dressed in a conservative dark-blue suit, displayed emotion by covering his head with his hands. Shaking his head, he could be heard saying "No" repeatedly.

Only the question of his sentence remained. Much of the testimony the jury would hear to decide his fate centered on Dayton's character, his worthiness to remain alive, and psychological arguments about his past violence.

James B. Hupy, a vocational instructor at the Oregon State Correctional Institution, explained how he had taught Dayton the skills he needed to become a mechanic when Dayton was in prison for the 1976 attack on the two Keizer, Oregon high school girls he had picked up when the girls skipped school. Dayton learned fast, said Hupy. In barely two years he went from being a person with little or no mechanical skills to someone with high skills. Hupy said he selected Dayton to be his apprentice a few months before Dayton was due to be released from prison.

James E. Miller, another vocational instructor at the prison, testified that he knew Dayton before he was arrested for the 1976 offenses. The two of them, he said, played table tennis together at Seventh-Day Adventist social gatherings. Miller explained that he was surprised when he ran into Dayton in prison, but despite his offenses, he was determined to help him. In fact, Dayton helped organize Adventist church services at the prison, which attracted about a dozen inmates. Dayton always played guitar at the services and seemed sincere in his religious convictions.

When the psychological testimony was presented, psychologist James R. Adams explained that Dayton committed violent acts only under particular circumstances, such as when he was intoxicated and sexually aroused in a scenario that included bondage and foot fetishism. For him to become violent he also must possess a feeling that he had been cheated, either emotionally or sexually, and he must always have a helpless woman as his victim. He also needed to maintain a reasonable certainty that he wouldn't be caught for his crimes, and his victim must be someone he can dehumanize, such as a prostitute. Adams's contention was that Dayton needed all of these factors present for him to become violent. In prison, said Adams, those factors would not be available to him, and he would not be a threat to men.

On the other hand, said John B. Cochran, senior forensics psychologist at the Oregon State Hospital, Dayton would in fact pose a continuing threat even in prison. Cochran detailed a homosexual relationship that Dayton had been engaged in and contended that, without availability of women as victims, it would only be a matter of time before he began selecting male victims.

Cochran, who has studied many serial killers over the course of his career and has served as a consultant to the Green River Task Force, explained that the very act of murder can be very pleasurable for sexually sadistic serial killers such as Dayton.

"If you compare it with normal, everyday sexual experiences," he said, "there just is no comparison."

Cochran elaborated by explaining that most serial killers fantasize about murder so frequently that killing becomes second nature to them. Some even develop a sexual bond to the murder weapon they use.

In arguing that Dayton's life be spared, Christopher Burris said that his client was a sick man who should be locked away forever, not put to death. He cited Dayton's good prison record, that he was a model prisoner who helped establish church services and had experienced no conflicts with other inmates. Burris suggested that the murders and other crimes Dayton committed were not carried out in a deliberate state of mind.

Eglitis, on the other hand, characterized Dayton as a walking time bomb. He said it was only a matter of time before he began his pattern of deceit all over again. He described Dayton as clever, one who was capable not only of luring and then deceiving his victims but of deceiving and manipulating the psychologists who had examined him. He had done it time and time again and would continue in the same pattern if given the opportunity.

"He can in every respect," said Eglitis, addressing the jury in his bid for the death penalty, "including his appearance, walk among you without giving any indication of the horrors that are within him. Dayton Leroy Rogers is a walking time bomb. He is an act of criminal violence looking for a place to happen. He's capable of fooling psychologists. He's capable of fooling psychiatrists. I hope to God he's not capable of fooling you."

On Wednesday, June 7, 1989, after more than seventeen hours of grueling deliberation, the jury voted unanimously that Dayton had murdered his victims deliberately and without reasonable, if any, provocation, and that he would be a continuing threat to society whether behind prison walls or on the outside. Judge Bagley sentenced Dayton Leroy Rogers to death by lethal injection.

"It was righteous justice," said Turner, solemn-faced but obviously pleased after hearing the verdict and sentence. "Righteous in the sense that an all-female jury convicted him and decided his fate."


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