Suspect’s family helped in unsolved murder since 1959
One Friday afternoon in 1959, Candice Rogers came home from school, played with her dog, ate an oatmeal cookie, and then headed out to sell Campfire Mint in her neighborhood in Spokane, Wash.
Candy, as she was known, was 9 years old and a Bluebird, a younger member of the Campfire Girls, a youth group focused on outdoor activities.
When Candy did not return home from the dark, her grandfather, mother, friends and neighbors began looking for her, and soon joined the duties of police officers and sheriff. Around nine o’clock in the night, cans of Campfire Mint, believed to be candies, were found scattered on the side of the road.
Candy disappeared on 6 March 1959. Thousands of people searched for him over the next 16 days. Marines, airmen and military aircraft were involved in this effort, but also infantry and cavalry residents. An Air Force helicopter involved in the search crashed, killing three crew members.
In the last weekend of searches, 1,200 people turned up.
On March 21, 1959, two off-duty airmen hunting in the woods about seven miles from his home spotted a pair of children’s shoes. The next morning, the police returned to the area and found Kandy’s body. She was sexually assaulted and strangled with a piece of her own clothing.
The crime shook Spokane. Hundreds of tips were put in but none could lead to Candy’s killer, the hopeless detective who spent decades investigating the case.
“I keep saying that this is the Mount Everest of our cold cases—which we could never overcome, but at the same time no one ever forgets,” Sgt. Zac Storment of the Spokane Police Department.
On Friday, more than 62 years after Kandy’s murder, Spokane police announced they had solved the case with DNA evidence and old-fashioned detective work.
The department identified the suspect as John Regh Hoff, who died by suicide in 1970, when he was 31. His daughter provided a DNA sample that linked her father to semen found on Candy’s clothing, which was preserved as evidence in one. The era long before the advent of genetic testing at crime sites.
Mr Hoff, who was buried in the same cemetery as Kandy, was later exhumed, and a DNA sample taken from his remains confirmed it was his semen, police said.
While the identification brought some relief to some of Candy’s surviving relatives, Sergeant Stortman 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 their lives and their childhood and put it on their heads,” he told a news conference on Friday. “What they believed about their father and their growing up has changed forever.”
Mr. Hoff grew up in Spokane and had a record of petty juvenile delinquency. He joined 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 killed in 1959.
In 1961, he was found guilty of apprehending a woman, stripping her, tying her to his own clothes and strangling her, police said. She survived, and Mr Hoff served six months in prison, police said.
Police said that as a result of the conviction, Mr. Hoff was declared a fugitive and discharged from the military. He sold cutlery and worked in a lumber yard and a meatpacking plant, where he suffered chemical burns to his face.
It was not clear whether Mr. Hoff knew Candy, Sergeant Storm said, although he had at least one connection: Mr. Hoff’s half-sister, who was 10, was a campfire girl who played Candy at the event”. Elder Sister”.
Sergeant Stormment said she had recently spoken to her half-sister, now in her 70s, who sat next to Mr Hoff crying and told him how distraught she was at Candy’s death.
Mr Hoff’s daughter, Cathy, said she was disbelieved, angry and saddened to learn that her father had been identified as a suspect. She was 9 years old when she died.
“It’s very sad to learn that someone – not just your father, but someone in your family can do something like this,” she said in a videotaped interview with Spokane Police. ,
Cathy said that she has spent most of her life thinking that her father died by suicide because he was depressed.
“And now I think, no, that was evil,” she said. “It was, in a way, not to avoid it, but to make people die thinking that he was a sane person. And he was not.”
A cousin of Candy’s, who was interviewed in the police video, said: “I think Candy’s loss was just a terrible loss. She was so sweet. And she didn’t have much time.”
Another relative, identified only as Cheryl, spoke of Candy’s parents and grandparents, saying: “I think it’s really sad that they don’t know that their granddaughter and daughter’s Who took his life?”
After Mr. Hoff’s body was removed from the cemetery, where Kandy was also buried, his family re-buried him in a different cemetery.
“I’m so sorry for what my dad did, that he took his life, so badly,” Kathy, Mr Hoff’s daughter, said in the videotaped interview. “I hope he finds peace knowing this, even though it’s not really justice because he doesn’t get any punishment, but his name is on it now. And they can know it’s resolved.”
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