Decades in the Dark: DNA Cracks the 1959 Cold Case Murder of Candy Rogers

The daughter of the suspect helped give the last living relative answers

Megan Ashley


Candy Rogers (Source)

It would become Spokane, Washington’s oldest cold case. The brutal murder of nine-year-old Candy Rogers. Who was abducted while going door to door selling Campfire Girl mints.

Candy Rogers disappeared on March 6, 1959. The fourth grader who attended Holmes Elementary was described as small for her age but had a determined mindset. She had recently joined the Camp Fire Girls, a youth organization focused on outdoor activities. She was a “Bluebird” working towards ranking up in the organization.

So that afternoon, she came home, played with her dog, ate an oatmeal cookie, and set out carrying a bag of boxed mints to go door to door to sell in the neighborhood.

She was only meant to be out for an hour or so. She was to be home for supper but never ran back through the door. When it was dark, her grandparents and mother started to look for her. As they searched and saw no sign, the police were called, who joined in the search along with neighbors.

At 9 PM, someone found several boxes of mints strewn about along the road. The campfire mints were believed to have been the same ones Candy had been selling. Candy had been kidnapped.

For days, the search continued, with Marines, the airforce with military aircraft, and residents searching on foot and horseback. Over twelve hundred people undertook an exhaustive search, and ultimately ended sixteen days later when her body was discovered in a wooded area covered in tree branches and pine needles seven miles from her home.

An autopsy was done, which showed Candy had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled with an item of her clothing. It had been a horrific attack that shocked the community.

Hundreds of tips flooded in, and hundreds of people were interviewed, but nothing closed the case. Spokane Police Department honed in on a suspect, a killer who lived nearby, Hugh B. Morse. He was already serving a life sentence for murder but denied killing Candy Rogers. He had been the strongest suspect; however, decades later, he would be eliminated with DNA evidence.