Sunday, January 25, 2009

Candy Rogers

Candy Rogers was 9 years old when she disappeared one evening in March 1959 while selling Camp Fire mints near her home in west Spokane. Her body was found about two weeks later under a pile of pine needles in a nearby abandoned rock quarry after varment hunters found her shoes.

This article by Spokesman Review staff writer John Craig provides the following details of this still unsolved murder--

While the unsolved case is still considered open, there is a prime suspect in the killing-- Hugh Bion Morse, a/k/a "Chris."

It's reported above that Morse was a member of the "Spokane Motorcycle Club." The club was actively assisting police in searching for the missing Candy Rogers. When her body was found, other club members went to Morse's apartment to tell him the search was over. Morse lived within a couple of blocks of Rogers' home. But, Morse was gone.

Morse was arrested in Minnesota in 1961 for murdering a woman in St. Paul. He was listed on the FBI's "Most Wanted List" in 1961. Shortly after his Minnesota arrest, Morse admitted to several violent crimes he committed in Spokane in 1959 and 1960-- beating two women to death and beating a third to near death. Morse lived within a few blocks of each and he vanished after each crime, showing up later at a different address.

(While in custody he also confessed to murder and other sex and violent crimes against women in Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, California and Missouri in 1960 and 1961).

Morse became a suspect in the Candy Rogers murder when police discovered he'd attempted to molest two 8-year-old girls while they sold Girl Scout cookies in California in 1955. Morse had been committed to the California State Hospital as a sexual psychopath, but was released in 1957. He was arrested four months later in California on suspicion of sex crimes. Police also learned that Morse had been dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1951 after he was arrested in North Carolina on suspicion of assault and indecent exposure.

Morse denied any involvement in the murder of Candy Rogers and he passed two lie-detector tests. DNA identification testing, not available when Rogers was murdered, was conducted in 2002 but it did not match a sample from Morse.

Yet, police investigators are unwilling to rule him out. Morse liked grape gum and chewed it all the time. Police files report that grape gum was found at the three scenes of attacks in Spokane which Morse admitted. Grape gum also was found in Morse’s room when he was arrested. Grape-smelling gum was smeared on Candy Rogers’ clothing. It is reported that police were planning to submit the gum for DNA testing.

Morse died in a Minnesota prison in 2003 while serving two life sentences for that 1961 rape and murder in St. Paul.

What is it about Spokane and serial rapists and serials killers? About Washington? Does every major city and state have a connection of some sort with these criminal types?

How about Spokane's "South Hill Rapist" Kevin Coe? He was born in 1947 as "Fred" Coe. He's been in custody since 1981 for conviction of rape. He was suspected in 43 rapes committed on Spokane's south side between 1978 and 1981. (His mother was herself later convicted for hiring a hit man to kill the judge who presided over her son's criminal trial).

He's served his criminal sentence, but in 2008 the State of Washington filed a civil commitment petition against him as being a "sexually violent predator." A jury agreed, and Coe is to be confined indefinitely at the special offender center on McNeil Island in south Puget Sound. (McNeil Island has also housed at various times such inmates as Al Capone, the "Birdman of Alcatraz" and Charles Manson).

When I was a teenager in the early 1960s living on Spokane's south hill, I vaguely remember one of my buddies pointing out some other guys in another group, and it seems one of the guys was Fred Coe, but that was the end of it until years later when I was reading the paper and thinking about the guy.

And how about serial killer Robert Yates who was born in1952? He’s been convicted of killing at least 13 women in Spokane between 1996 and 1998. All 13 were working as prostitutes along Spokane’s E. Sprague Avenue. The judge sentenced Yates to 408 years in prison. He avoided the death penalty by confessing to the Spokane County murders in exchange for the life sentence. He also pleaded guilty to killing women in Skagit and Walla Walla counties, and was convicted for two murders of women from Pierce County. Yates has been sentenced to death by lethal injection for the Pierce County deaths. He’s currently on death row at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

We might as well add "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgeway to this list (pictured here on the right) even though he's not from Spokane. Born in 1949, he was arrested in 2001 for the murders of four women linked to him through DNA. In 2003 he pleaded guilty to killing 48 women, almost all of them prostitutes. He claimed to have actually killed 90 women. He was spared the death penalty by pleading guilty. He received a sentence of "life without possibility of parole."

And, what list of serial killers who ran through Washington State would be complete without mentioning that psychopath Ted Bundy? Born in 1946, Bundy confessed to killing 30 young women across the United States between 1974 and 1978. He escaped from prison twice before his final capture in 1978. He may have killed as many as 100. He was executed in Florida for murder in 1989.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the article on the Candy Rogers murder. I was 9 years old when this happened and was one of two girls that walked partially home with Candy that day. As I was only 9 I don't remember reading much about the details although I do remember being questioned by the police about it. I was dropped at my house first being closest to the school and then she dropped my friend Carlene at her house and continued on by herself by a couple of blocks. It has haunted me for years. Carol