The suspect’s family helps crack the Candy Rogers murder case

One Friday afternoon in 1959, Candice Rogers came home from school, played with her dog, ate an oatmeal cookie, and then went out to sell campfire mints in her neighborhood in Spokane, Wash.

Candy, as she was known, was 9 years old and a young member of Bluebird, Campfire Girls, a youth group focused on outdoor activities.

When Candy did not return home in the dark, her grandparents, mother, friends and neighbors began searching for her, and soon police officers and sheriff’s representatives joined them. At around 9pm, boxes of candy campfire mint were found scattered on the street.

Candy disappeared on March 6, 1959. Over the next 16 days, thousands of people searched for him. The effort involved Marines, airmen and military aircraft, but also residents on foot and on horseback. Three crew members were killed when an Air Force helicopter involved in the search crashed.

On the last weekend of the search, 1,200 people turned out.

On March 21, 1959, two off-duty airmen spotted a pair of children’s shoes hunting in the woods about seven miles from his home. The next morning, police returned to the area and found Candy’s body. She was sexually abused and strangled with a piece of her own clothing.

The crime shook Spokane. Hundreds of suggestions were made, but no one was able to convince Candy’s killer, the frustrated detectives who investigated the case decades later.

“I keep saying this is the Everest of our cold affairs – something we’ve never been able to overcome, but at the same time no one has forgotten,” the sergeant said. Zac Storment of the Spokane Police Department.

On Friday, more than 62 years after Candy’s murder, Spokane police announced they had solved the case with DNA evidence and old-fashioned espionage.

The department identified the suspect as John Reh Hoff, who committed suicide in 1970, when he was 31 years old. Her daughter provided a DNA sample that was linked to the semen found on her father’s candy cloth, which was preserved as evidence. Long before the advent of genetic testing in crime scenes.

Mr Hoff, who was buried in a candy-like grave, was later exhumed, and DNA samples taken from his remains confirmed it was his semen, police said.

The identification brought some relief to some of Candy’s surviving relatives, Sergeant Stroment said it was painful to tell Mr. Hoff’s widow and four children that Mr. Hoff was responsible for such a heinous crime.

“I took the lives of those people and their childhood and threw them in the head,” he told a news conference on Friday. “What he believed in his father and growing up has changed forever.”

Mr. Huff grew up in Spokane and had a juvenile delinquency record. He enlisted in the army at the age of 17 and served as an inventory clerk in Korea. He was 20 years old and lived about a mile from Kandy when he was assassinated in 1959.

In 1961, he was convicted of grabbing a woman, stripping her naked, tying her own clothes and strangling her before fleeing, police said. She survived, and Mr. Huff served six months in prison, police said.

As a result of the sentencing, Mr Hoff was declared desolate and discharged from the army, police said. He sold cutlery and worked in a wood yard and a meat packing plant, where he had chemical burns on his face.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

Sergeant Stroment said he had just talked to his step-sister, now in her 70’s, who remembered how upset she was when she sat next to Mr. Hoff, crying and Candy’s death.

Mr Huff’s daughter, Kathy, said she felt distrust, anger and sadness when she found out her father had been identified as a suspect. She was 9 years old when she died.

“It’s really sad to know that someone – not just your father, but someone in your family – can do such a thing,” she said. A videotape interview With the Spokane police, who identified him only by his first name.

Kathy said she spent most of her life thinking that her father had committed suicide because she was depressed.

“And now I think, no, he was evil,” she said. “It simply came to our notice then.

One of Candy’s brothers, interviewed in a police video, said: “I think Candy’s loss was a terrible loss. She was very sweet. And he didn’t have much time. “

Another relative, Cheryl, said of Candy’s parents and grandparents: “I think it’s really sad that their granddaughter and daughter died because they didn’t know who took their lives.”

After Mr. Hoff’s body was exhumed from the cemetery where Candy was buried, his family re-buried him in another grave.

“I’m very, very sorry for what my father did, that he took his life, horribly,” said Mr Hoff’s daughter, Kathy, in a videotaped interview. “I hope it gives him peace of mind, although it is not really justice because he has not been punished, but he has it in his name now. And they know it has been resolved.”

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