Dayton Leroy Rogers: Portrait of a Serial Sex Killer
One That Got Away
As Oregon lawmen drew a bead on this violent wacko, they found out that he preferred
prostitutes as his prey, had an appetite for kinky sex, and liked to start things rolling with
vodka and orange juice. During the course of their investigation they also learned that he
was Oregons worst serial killer to date, a murderer whose blood lust knew no bounds.
July 7, 1987, a Tuesday, was another hot, sultry summer day in Oregon. Heather Brown,
31, a prostitute, had worked the night before in her area along Portland's Union Avenue, a
high-crime area dominated by prostitutes, pimps, and drug dealers. Several other hookers
had been in place that night, but despite the others, Heather, dressed in a skintight outfit
that left nothing to the imagination, never had to wait long for a customer to come along.
It had been a busy night for her, and as a result she had slept in until nearly noon.
When she climbed out of bed, she reached for her pack of cigarettes but found that it was
empty. Needing a smoke, she left her two small children with her roommate and began
walking toward a nearby 7-Eleven store, again dressed in the skintight outfit that she had
worn the night before. About halfway to the store, a man in a blue Nissan pickup stopped
and offered her a ride. Figuring that she could make a few quick bucks, Heather accepted
and climbed inside. The driver headed out of the city toward a wooded area known as the
The john introduced himself as Steve, and explained that he was a professional gambler
from Nevada. They drove along for some time, and at one point stopped at a convenience
store so that Heather could buy a pack of cigarettes and a Coke and so that Steve could
purchase a six-pack of beer. Afterward they continued driving until they reached the
wooded area, when their conversation turned to business. He said that he was going to
drive into the hills, and that he wanted to tie someone up and fuck them. He moved to
touch her thigh, but she pushed his hand away and demanded that he take her back to
Portland. However, he refused and turned off onto an unpaved logging road where he
sped up to about forty miles per hour.
Heather grabbed her shoes off of the floor, ready to make a break for it when the time was
right. But the john caught her eyeing the door handle, and he reacted instantly. He
swerved the pickup recklessly, so she would lose her sense of balance, and reached toward
her, placing his hand over her chest to prevent her from jumping out of the truck. He then
stepped on the accelerator and was soon speeding to more than sixty miles per hour.
Nearly out of her mind with fear, Heather struggled violently and managed to break free of
the mans hold. In one swift move she opened the door and jumped from the speeding
truck. The john slowed his vehicle a little but, apparently aware that a log truck was close
behind, kept on going.
When the logger rounded the curve, he saw Heather lying in the road and slammed on his
brakes. Seeing that she was injured and grateful that he hadnt hit her, he helped her into
the cab of his rig. One of her eyes was bleeding, which he helped her to cover, and she
had other scrapes and cuts. She told the logger that she had to jump out of the mans
pickup because she feared that he was planning to kill her. Since she was obviously very
shaken up, the logger didnt probe her with questions. Instead, he arranged to have her
driven to a medical clinic in Molalla, where it was determined that she had suffered a
concussion and multiple abrasions to her left temple area, right forearm, and hand.
The matter was reported to the Clackamas County Sheriffs Department and was written
up as case number 87-20998. The incident report would become the first clue of the
horror that was already well underway to veteran Detective John Turner, 44, a
distinguished-looking man of Anglo-Saxon descent.
Turner had no way of knowing it yet, but the evil outrage that was taking its toll on
Portlands streetwalkers would virtually consume his life for much of the next two years
and would eventually lead him to the most vicious and remorseless killer with whom he
had ever dealt or would likely ever face again.
Dayton Leroy Rogers: Portrait of a Serial Sex Killer
It has been said that blood lust is an aberration unique to the human animal, that when it
occurs, it does so without purpose and has no reverence for the normal needs intrinsic to
humankind survival. The aberration--for that is what it really is--is clearly sexual violence
and all evil, and it rears its diabolic head when its host fails to achieve sexual gratification
in any other way. As a result, many--particularly women and children--who unwittingly
come into contact with such an individual, die needlessly and without mercy at his hands.
Dayton Leroy Rogers, 33-years-old when his blood lust neared its peak, was fearsomely
known to many of Portland, Oregons prostitutes as "Steve the gambler" and has been
afflicted by bloodlust since his late teens, perhaps longer. It usually materialized in the
form of a headache, inflicting on him a splitting, blinding white pain, and perhaps he was
always subconsciously aware that only the sight of another's pain, the sounds of her
anguish, or, ultimately, the spilling of her blood would relieve his own suffering. When the
headaches began, the only way to make them go away was to let his dark side fully
Dayton seemed personable enough on the surface, as long as he wasn't in the midst of one
of his mood swings. He was well known in the small communities of Woodburn and
Canby, and people seemed to like him. A mechanic by trade, a skill he had learned in
prison, Dayton ran a small successful engine repair business, was married, and had an
eighteen-month-old boy who was a mirror image of him. Few people saw the evil that lay
beneath the thin veneer, and many of those who were unlucky enough to witness his dark
side firsthand did not live to talk about it.
Dayton's headaches seemed to worsen during the summer of 1987 and for that reason he
was away from home much of the time. He claimed that he was working at his shop
during his absences, which ranged from a few hours to all night, and his wife, Sherry, saw
little reason, at first, to doubt him. When she would call to check up on him in the early
evening, he usually answered the telephone. On the occasions that he didn't, he always had
an excuse. He would explain that he had been in the middle of a project and hadn't wanted
to leave it to pick up the phone. Or, more commonly, he would tell Sherry that he had
gone out to get coffee, perhaps a bite to eat, anything that would convince her he was only
taking a break to get away from the shop for a while. Often, however, he waited until it
was very late, until he was certain that Sherry was in bed and fast asleep, before beginning
the prowl. Soon his working late became routine, a way of life, and Sherry's phone calls
became less frequent. Although she began to hear stories about him frequenting the local
taverns and bars, she tried very hard to maintain the faith she had always had in him. She
might have become suspicious of his activities sooner if only she had taken the trouble to
check the mileage on his pickup. But she hadn't, and he put more miles on the truck in a
single week than most people drive in a month.
August 6, a Thursday, started out for the Rogers family like most other days. Dayton got
up early, showered and shaved, had a light breakfast, and drove to his small engine repair
shop in Woodburn before 8 a.m. Outwardly, he seemed happy. Business had picked up
during the summer to the point where he had to hire a man to help him, and several new
repair orders were coming in every day. Soon, however, he began to feel the pressures of
the backlog despite the new help, and his headaches became more frequent, as did his
nocturnal outings. At times Sherry found herself wondering what had come over him,
seeing him sitting quietly and staring into space, but she never said anything. Even though
she had heard rumors about him carousing the nightspots and secretly feared that he may
have been seeing other women, she somehow convinced herself that the pressures from his
business had become too great, and she didn't want to do or say anything that might add
to his troubles.
It wasn't until later that afternoon that the pounding inside Dayton's head became more
than he could bear. He had to do something to stop the headache. He left his assistant in
charge of the shop and drove to the liquor store at the North Park Plaza in Woodburn,
where he purchased a ten-pack of Smirnoff vodka miniatures to replace the depleted stock
he normally kept behind the seat of his pickup. He also purchased a couple of bottles of
orange juice, the type in the disposable plastic bottles that he liked so well. He drank one
of his crudely mixed screwdrivers quickly, and the headache subsided a little. Afterward,
he returned to his shop and waited, thinking and planning the rest of the evening. He
needed something more effective than the alcohol for his headache. The remedies were
there, he knew, out in numbers on Portland's streets, his for the asking and a $50 bill. It
had all been so easy with all of the others that there was no stopping him now.
At 8:30 p.m. Dayton drove home, where he had dinner with Sherry and his son. He
explained that he had to return to the shop and work very late, perhaps into the early
morning hours, to catch up on some of the overdue work. Sherry, an attractive
curly-haired silver brunette at five feet four inches tall, 120 pounds, and three years
younger than Dayton, didn't protest. She never did. Devoutly religious and somewhat
naive, she always trusted her husband and rarely questioned his activities.
Half an hour later Dayton was gone. He stopped off at his shop, had a couple more drinks,
and tinkered with some of the easier repair projects to kill time. Shortly after midnight he
changed into his stepping-out clothes that he kept inside his special closet, and waited
inside the shop a little longer until he was certain that Sherry had gone to bed. By 12:30
a.m. he was heading toward Portland.
On August 7, 1987, by 1:00 a.m., the man who called himself Steve the gambler was
back on Union Avenue, which was known as Portlands Prostitute Row, looking for
some kinky action.
After a short cruise, he stopped a blonde near the corner of Northeast Union Avenue and
Wygant Street. He recognized her as a hooker he'd picked up before during Portland's
1987 Rose Festival. She was a somewhat large woman but, from a distance, appeared
attractive. She knew how to dress and held her weight well. He pulled over and invited
her inside. Recognizing him as a former customer, the woman didn't hesitate.
No one, except for the john, knows the precise details of what happened between the
couple from 1-3:00 a.m. But at some time prior to 3:00 a.m., they pulled into the parking
lot of a Dennys restaurant on the 16200 block of Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard in
Oak Grove, a Clackamas County suburb of Portland. With the taverns and bars having just
closed, business was brisk there; it was the only restaurant open in the area at that time of
Michael Fielding, 32, who lived in an apartment nearby, had gone to bed a couple of hours
earlier and was sleeping soundly when he suddenly heard the muffled screams of a woman
in intense pain.
"Help me!" screamed the woman. "Please help me! Rape! I'm being raped!" As Fielding
climbed out of bed and headed for the window that overlooked the parking lot, the
screams became louder, no longer muffled. He arrived at the window in time to see a man
run beneath a streetlight.
Moments earlier, James Dahlke, 50, had just arrived at Dennys. He was alone as he
parked his 1983 Ford van and started walking toward the restaurant. He heard a woman
yelling and screaming, but couldnt quite make out what she was saying. But he could see
two human forms in the parking lot in the direction from which the screams had come.
Although it was dark, he could see two people, a man and a woman, who appeared to be
struggling with each other. After his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the parking lot,
Dahlke could not believe what he saw. There, near the middle of the parking lot, lay a
completely naked woman! A man was kneeling over her, but Dahlke could not
immediately determine why.
Charles Gates, a handicapped customer, had just arrived and had barely situated himself in
his wheelchair when he heard the screams. Already outside in the parking lot, he was on
his way over to the woman, as was Dahlke. When the man kneeling over the woman saw
Dahlke and Gates approaching, he jumped to his feet and ran in the opposite direction.
Gates reached the woman first.
"My God! He slit her throat!" exclaimed Gates, falling from his wheelchair. Experienced in
first aid and emergency medical treatment, Gates noted that the woman was not breathing
and would not respond to questions. Finding no carotid pulse and undaunted by all of the
blood, he immediately began CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
As a crowd gathered, Dahlke instructed restaurant personnel to call for medical and police
help. Then he returned to the parking lot only to discover that Gatess gallant attempts
had not revived the woman. Dahlke could see why. The woman was covered with blood
and stab wounds.
A couple of minutes later, Dahlke again spotted the man he'd seen only moments before
kneeling by the nude victim. The man was coming around the side of a building adjacent
to the restaurant and was headed for a small foreign pickup parked nearby.
Thats him! Someone shouted. Thats the son-of-a-motherfucker!
By that time two other bystanders, Stan Conner and Richard Bergio, had rushed over to
see what was happening. After learning of the incident, Conner and Bergio ran for their
own vehicles. They attempted to block off the exits from the parking lot with their cars,
but the man with the pickup drove out over the sidewalk.
Bergio, determined not to let the guy get away, sped out of the parking lot in his own car
in hot pursuit of the pickup, which was by now heading south on McLoughlin Boulevard
toward Gladstone. Bergio chased the pickup through Oak Grove and into nearby
Gladstone, at times at speeds over 100 miles an hour. Then, Bergio got close enough to
the pickup to copy down its license plate number. Satisfied that he'd done all that he
could, Bergio gave up the chase and returned to the crime scene, where he now found a
team of Clackamas County sheriff's deputies and a rescue team from the Oak Lodge Fire
The rescuers valiantly tried to revive the woman, but to no avail. A short time later, she
was loaded onto an ambulance and taken to Emanuel Hospital and Health Center in
Portland, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
Meanwhile, several deputies rounded up witnesses and took a statement from each.
Six of those interviewed said they'd heard the woman's screams for at least two minutes
before her body was found. One of the witnesses, Michael Fielding, told the deputies how
the woman's screams had awakened him.
It had sounded as though her screams had come from inside a closed vehicle, through the
glass, at first, said Fielding, because her shrieks were muffled. She was obviously in
intense pain and had cried out that she was being raped. When Fielding got to the window,
though, all he saw was the man who ran beneath the streetlight.
"It was like a spotlight," said Fielding. "If he hadn't run underneath it, I wouldn't have seen
anything." He told the deputies that he had gotten a good look at the man, and that he
could likely recognize him if he saw him again.
Deputies found several articles of clothing not far from where the victim's body had lain.
The clothing, believed to be hers, included blue jeans, a hooded blue sweatshirt with white
trim, and a single tennis shoe. But, the deputies wondered, where was the other shoe?
No identification, either in the clothing or on the parking lot, was found. But after
additional searching, the deputies found a double-length pair of shoelaces, tied together
with loops at both ends, prompting some to speculate that the woman had been hogtied at
A short time later, Clackamas County Sheriff's Detectives John T. Turner and Mike
Machado arrived at the crime scene. After being briefed on that morning's events, Turner
took the license plate number (Oregon CYW 194) provided by Richard Bergio and ran it
through the Oregon State Department of Motor Vehicles computer. Moments later,
Turner learned that the pickup's registered owner was 33-year-old Dayton Leroy Rogers,
whose address was listed as being in the 10500 block of South Heinz Road in Canby,
Oregon, about 20 miles south of the crime scene.
Turner and a team of deputies reached Rogers' home at approximately 5:00 a.m. They saw
no sign of the pickup on the property, and they were subsequently told by a relative that
Rogers was not at home but could likely be found at his auto-repair shop in the 11600
block of Pacific Court in Woodburn, a few miles south of Canby. The relative told the
sleuths that Rogers sometimes worked odd hours at the shop.
It was 5:35 a.m. when Detective Turner arrived at Rogers' shop. After a cursory glance
around outside, he knocked on the door of the shop until a man with bloodshot eyes
answered. Smelling of alcohol, the man identified himself as Dayton Rogers. After Turner
told Rogers that he and the deputies were there as part of a homicide investigation,
Rogers allowed them inside.
Although Detective Turner noted that Rogers' pupils were dilated, he observed that the
man had no difficulty walking and that his speech was not slurred, prompting him to
conclude that Rogers had been drinking but was not drunk. When asked, Rogers told the
detective that he'd been at the shop all night and had been drinking bourbon and
"Mind if I take a look around?" asked Turner.
"Go ahead and search the place," said Rogers. "Search the truck, too, if you want to."
Rogers told the detective that his pickup had been at the shop all night. Turner shot him a
dubious glance, walked over to the truck and raised the hood.
"Been here all night, huh?" asked Turner as he attempted to place his hand on the engine's
valve cover, which was too hot to touch. "You haven't gone out at all, have you?"
Rogers, or somebody, had recently run the engine hard, thought Turner, as he pulled his
hand away from the hot engine.
"What happened to your hand?" asked Turner, observing that Rogers' right hand was
bandaged. "Cut yourself?"
Rogers explained that he'd been using a hacksaw a few hours earlier, when it suddenly
slipped and cut his hand. Turner asked if he had left the shop for first aid; Rogers
responded that he'd gone to Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City that same morning
to have the wound treated.
So he had left the shop, reflected Turner, who also wondered why the man had initially
lied about it. If he didn't have anything to hide, why was he acting so suspiciously?
There was no doubt that Rogers' pickup was the one seen fleeing the scene of the crime. It
matched in appearance and the license plate identification was the same. Because of that
and his suspicious demeanor, Rogers was arrested a few minutes later and taken to the
Clackamas County Jail in Oregon City, where he was held on suspicion of murder.
Meanwhile, the detectives identified the dead woman as 25-year-old Jennifer Lisa Smith,
mother of two. Her last known address was in the 4800 block of North Albina Avenue in
Portland, not far from Union Avenue. Additional background on Smith revealed that she
had an arrest record for prostitution and indecent exposure.
Background on Rogers revealed that he was no stranger to law enforcement, either. In
1972, when he was 18, Rogers picked up a 15-year-old girl who had been hitchhiking in
Eugene, Oregon. He had convinced her to go to a remote area to have sex with him,
detectives learned. Risking a charge of statutory rape, Rogers picked the girl up again a
few days later and they went together to a park to gather wood to make whistles for
neighborhood kids. But he took her into a wooded area to again have sex with her.
After lying down on the ground, Rogers leaned over as if to kiss the girl. Instead,
according to police reports, he stabbed her in the abdomen with a hunting knife. After
pulling the knife from her stomach, the girl, bleeding profusely and in intense pain,
convinced Rogers to take her to a hospital for treatment. She survived and later told
authorities about the attack. On February 13, 1973, Rogers pleaded guilty to
second-degree assault and was placed on four years' probation for that attack.
Less than six months later, the detectives learned, Rogers assaulted two 15-year-old girls
with a soft-drink bottle. Although charged with one count each of second- and
third-degree assault, Rogers was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect,
Oregon's equivalent to an insanity plea; he was sent to the Oregon State Hospital by Lane
County Circuit Court Judge Helen Frye. He was released from the hospital on December
These incidents prompted Darryl L. Larson, Lane County Deputy District Attorney, to
write an after-sentence report on Rogers: "This man is an extreme danger to the
community, particularly to young women. He is both sexually and physically violent and,
without question, is a murder case looking for a place to happen.
In January 1976, Rogers was indicted on a charge of first-degree rape in Clackamas
County, but he was eventually acquitted of the charge. In February 1976, however, while
the Clackamas County rape charge was still pending, Rogers picked up two Keizer,
Oregon high school girls, and at knifepoint allegedly raped one and threatened to rape the
According to John L. Collins, Yamhill County District Attorney, the two girls had skipped
school and were walking down a Keizer street when Rogers saw them and convinced
them to go with him.
"He was a good talker and his method at the time was to pick up girls, particularly blonde
girls," said Collins. "They got into the car with him, and they went to get some beer."
After drinking beer and smoking marijuana together, said Collins, Rogers took a paring
knife from the glove box of the car he was driving and threatened the girls with it. He used
coat-hanger wire to bind the girls' wrists and ankles.
"Afterward he apologized and pretended like it was all some kind of game," said Collins.
Rogers was nonetheless indicted on charges of rape and coercion; he pleaded not guilty by
reason of mental disease or defect. Rogers was convicted only on the coercion charge and
received a maximum five-year prison sentence.
"This was in a less-enlightened time," said Collins, "when juries often felt that if the
woman or girl contributed to the rape in any way, they would not convict him. In this
case, I think it was because they drank beer and smoked marijuana with him."
As the detectives probed deeper into Rogers' background, they learned that he had been in
and out of jail for a variety of reasons, including parole and probation violations and for
kidnapping a local prostitute. All in all, the detectives learned, Rogers spent 27 months in
Oregon prisons. His parole was formally terminated in January 1983.
Meanwhile, acting on a tip from one of Rogers' relatives, investigators returned to the
suspect's Woodburn auto-repair shop, where they sifted ashes from a wood stove in
Rogers' office. There they found what appeared to be remnants of a burned tennis shoe.
Analysis later determined that metal parts found in the wood stove closely matched the
metal parts of the shoe that was discovered in the parking lot where Jennifer Smith was
murdered. They also found pieces of colored glass, rhinestones, and star-shaped
grommets inside the stove, their sources unknown.
Rogers' truck had been impounded shortly after his arrest, after warrants had been
obtained, and it was carefully searched for evidence. According to criminalists, there was
blood inside the cab of the pickup, numerous knife cuts on the dashboard, upholstery,
ceiling, and passenger door. They also found a single fingerprint matching that of Jennifer
Smith's right ring finger on the outside handle of the passenger door. The examination and
search also turned up a small green band in the bed of the pickup; they later determined it
had come from a small container of ready-to-drink orange juice.
Next, in their efforts to build a stronger case against Rogers, the detectives went to
Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City to see how much of the suspect's story about his
wounded hand was true. After questioning the emergency room doctor who had attended
to the wounds, the detectives learned that the cuts were not jagged as they would have
been if a hacksaw blade had made them. They had been smooth and clean, more like
wounds that would have been caused by a knife blade.
Although gut feelings told the investigators that Rogers was their man, they nonetheless
assembled a photo lay-down, a group of six photographs of men, including Rogers, who
had similar appearances. They displayed the lay-down to eyewitness Michael Fielding; it
took him less than 20 seconds to identify Dayton Rogers as the man he saw stop briefly
under a streetlight as he fled the Dennys restaurant parking lot.
Because Jennifer Smith was a known prostitute and because of Rogers' continued interest
in hookers, detectives hit Portlands streets and interviewed as many hookers as they
could, focusing their attention on those who knew Jennifer. Not surprisingly, the
detectives found several who knew Rogers, too.
Many of the hookers that the detectives talked to identified Rogers from a photo
lay-down; several said he'd told them his name was Steve. One of the women even told
investigators that she saw Jennifer Smith walk toward his pickup, as if to get inside, three
hours before she was found murdered.
The detectives learned that he nearly always told the girls he was a professional gambler,
usually saying that he was from Las Vegas but sometimes saying that he was from Reno,
and that he typically offered $40 to $80 for a sexual scenario that involved bondage. He
always had the girls completely undress, after which he bound their hands and feet at the
wrists and ankles with rope, dog collars, wire, nylon stockings, shoe laces, and the
like--anything that would hold their arms and feet securely in place. But many said that
Rogers went far beyond bondage, subjecting them to intense physical pain, torture, even
One prostitute told the detectives that Rogers had a foot fetish and found women's arches
sexually arousing. An interesting point, the detectives noted, considering that Jennifer
Smith was barefoot when her body was found. 0ther prostitutes said that all of the "dates"
occurred in the cab of Rogers' pickup, and Rogers usually began by drinking vodka and
orange juice. He usually stopped at a convenience store, said the hookers, where he
bought ready-to-drink juice in small plastic containers.
One of the prostitutes accompanied a detective to a convenience store and picked out the
brand of orange juice Rogers usually bought, in small plastic containers with green plastic
caps security-sealed with green bands, just like the one found in the bed of Rogers' pickup.
He usually bought the vodka in the individual serving, one-and-a-half-ounce bottles, like
those served by airlines.
One hooker told the detectives that Rogers picked her up and agreed to pay her $50 for
straight sex. Instead, he tied her hands and feet and tortured her for hours by biting her on
the breasts, buttocks, and feet, hard enough to draw blood. Another prostitute said she
was subjected to the same type of treatment, except that he threatened to cut off her
breasts with a knife. Yet another hooker told the detectives that Rogers cut off her clothes
with a machete, and another said he cut the heel of her foot with a carving knife. One of
the women said that he had subjected her to so much pain during a six-hour ordeal that
she'd asked him to kill her. All of the women said that Rogers liked to masturbate during
From the definitive autopsy of Jennifer Smith's body, Dr. Karen Gunson, Deputy State
Medical Examiner, determined that there were at least 11 knife wounds to the victim's
body, 10 of which were very deep. The medical examiner said that there were eight stab
wounds to the front of Jennifer's body, one of which severed a major artery on the left side
of her chest and was likely the cause of death.
Jennifer also sustained slashing wounds to both of her breasts, two deep stab wounds to
her abdomen that pierced her stomach, and a V-shaped stab wound in her back that
pierced her liver. Dr. Gunson explained that the V-shaped wound might have been caused
by two stabs that had overlapped.
The victim also had slash wounds to both of her hands that cut all the way to the bone,
wounds which Dr. Gunson described as defensive injuries caused when the victim tried to
grab the knife blade from her attacker or otherwise tried to prevent him from stabbing her.
Jennifer's throat had also been slit.
"There were other wounds," said Dr. Gunson, including two quarter-inch-wide bruises
around both wrists. These bruises indicated that Jennifer had been tied up, perhaps with
the shoelaces found at the crime scene. Gunson said that "a significant amount of
pressure" must have been applied to Jennifer's wrists for such bruising to occur.
After the investigators presented their case to a Clackamas County grand jury, Dayton
Leroy Rogers was indicted on a charge of aggravated murder in the death of Jennifer
Smith. The indictment alleged that Rogers murdered Smith during the course of rape,
kidnapping, sexual abuse, and torture. It also alleged that Rogers killed Smith to cover up
the other crimes.
Rogers retained Attorney Arthur B. Knauss of Oregon City to represent him, and he
pleaded innocent to the charges. He was held without bail.
In the meantime, on Monday, August 31st, Everett Banyard, 46, a crossbow hunter in
pursuit of prey on a private 90,000-acre timber farm southeast of Molalla, Oregon, nearly
stumbled over the nude, partly buried body of a young woman. The body, in an advanced
state of decomposition, was partially covered with brush. Unnerved by his gruesome
discovery, the hunter left the forest as quickly as possible and reported his find to the
Clackamas County authorities.
When investigators arrived at the remote site--a recreation area near the Molalla River that
is popular with fishermen, swimmers, hunters, hikers, and other outdoors types--the bow
hunter led them up an old dirt logging road through the rugged mountain forest, mixed
with evergreens and deciduous trees, to a nearly vertical slope where he'd discovered the
body. Even though it was a little difficult to get to, the investigators had no trouble finding
At first glance, the detectives couldn't tell if the body had been buried by the forces of
nature or if someone had attempted to conceal it. But one thing was certain--she was a
Due to the lateness of the hour, no attempt was made to search the crime scene that
evening. Instead, deputies were posted nearby as sentries to protect the scene until
criminalists arrived the next morning.
Shortly after a search for evidence began the next day, searchers found two more corpses
within 50 feet of each other, in the same general area as the first. The scene appeared to be
a "cluster dump" similar to those used by the Green River serial killer in Washington State.
Unsure of what they were dealing with here, the investigators temporarily halted the
search while Colt, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department's tracking dog, was
brought in to assist in the search for more bodies.
Over the next five days, a total of seven female corpses were brought down from the
forest ridge. All were nude when found, and all bore signs of stabbing, torture, and
mutilation. Some of the victims feet had been crudely removed at the ankle with what
appeared to be a blade with a serrated edge, like that of a hacksaw. One victims foot had
been cut approximately two-thirds of the way through the bone, with the remainder
broken off. This prompted the detectives to consider that the perpetrator had sawed these
womens feet off while they were still alive and conscious in an attempt to elicit additional
pain and sufferinghowever, the one victim whose bone had only been partially sawed
through and then broken the rest of the way likely had gone into shock, and the breaking
of the bone had likely been a last-ditch attempt at breaking through the shock barrier to
elicit one final response to pain. Each of the victims were in varying degrees of
decomposition, but two were markedly more advanced, having been there considerably
longer than the others.
Despite the striking similarities between the female victims on the Molalla forest slope and
Jennifer Smithnudity, signs of stabbing, torture, mutilationthe detectives didnt, at
least at first, focus on Dayton Leroy Rogers as a possible suspect. He was in jail, charged
with a different murder. However, as Detective Turner walked around the forest site he
soon spotted miniature vodka bottles, an old package that they had been purchased in, and
disposable orange juice bottlesthe same kind found in the back of Dayton Rogers
pickup. As a result, it didn't take long for Turner to begin focusing on Dayton Rogers as
the prime suspect in the Molalla forest murders. He also reasoned that, when all was said
and done, many if not most of the Molalla forest victims would turn out to have a history
of prostitution arrests.
The dead, it turned out, were identified over the next several months as Lisa Marie Mock,
23; Maureen Ann Hodges, 26; Christine Lotus Adams, 35; Nondace Kae Cervantes, 26,
a.k.a. Noni Kae Austin; Reatha Gyles,16; Cynthia Diane DeVore, 21. One victim remains
unidentified to this day. And just as Turner had figured, most of the victims had either
worked as prostitutes at the time of their deaths, or they had arrest records for prior
prostitution offenses. Some were heroin addicts. Only one had no links to prostitution or
Lisa Mock Maureen Hodges Christine Adams Nondace Cervantes Reatha Gyles Cynthia
At the time of the gruesome discovery in the Molalla forest, the investigators wouldn't say
what they had for evidence against Rogers. However, one source close to the
investigation maintained that he was the prime suspect in the forest murders and that they
had enough evidence to bring him to trial in those killings, but they wanted to wait and see
how his trial for the murder of Jennifer Smith turned out before charging him with the
Molalla forest murders.
At Rogers' trial, which began in February 1988 in the courtroom of Clackamas County
Circuit Court Judge Patrick D. Gilroy, Deputy District Attorney Andrejs I. Eglitis told the
jury that Rogers murdered Jennifer Smith by design, following a pattern he'd established
with prostitutes. Eglitis called Rogers a "vicious predator" who killed for a "sexual thrill.''
"You'll find that the reason he went to downtown Portland was...to satisfy what you will
find to be his bizarre sexual appetite," said Deputy D.A. Eglitis.
"You'll find that his sexual appetite included bondage, masturbation, and intent to inflict
intense physical pain."
Rogers' attorney, Arthur Knauss, told jurors that they would not like his client, but insisted
they were there to decide whether what Mr. Rogers did was tantamount to a criminal act
and not to judge his sexual mores. Knauss admitted that Rogers killed Jennifer Smith, but
contended that he did so in self-defense.
There it was, the preposterous claim of self-defense. Eglitis had known that it was
coming, and he had prepared himself to accept that such a defense would be presented.
He couldnt believe it, but he accepted it. He knew he would convince the jury otherwise.
The evidence would show them the truth.
Knauss maintained that Smith spotted more than $200 in Rogers' wallet when they
stopped at a convenience store to buy orange juice and she decided to rob the defendant at
knifepoint. Later, when Rogers got out of the truck to urinate, Smith pulled a knife from
the glove compartment and brought it close to Rogers' throat and demanded his wallet,
declared Knauss. A struggle followed and turned into a wrestling match for the knife, in
which Jennifer Smith was stabbed several times and killed purely by accident.
Early in the trial, the jury heard testimony from several witnesses who said they heard the
victim scream in intense pain for approximately two minutes before her body was
discovered. Prosecutor Eglitis also said that there were deep cuts to Jennifer's breasts,
which indicated that she'd been tortured; and he presented testimony from the medical
examiner who displayed graphic photos of Jennifer's wounds.
At one point in the trial, jurors heard testimony from the woman Rogers had stabbed in
1972, when he was 18 and she was 15. She explained how she had met Rogers when he
picked her up while she hitchhiked in Eugene, and how he took her into a remote area to
have sex on that day and on a subsequent date.
"We'd hold hands and swing around and talk and smile," said the prior victim, who came
close to tears at several points. "Then we sat down, and we were talking and he tickled my
legs and told me to close my eyes...Then I felt the plunge."
She explained that Rogers had stabbed her in the belly, just left of her navel. She stopped
momentarily and showed jurors a six-inch vertical scar.
"I thought a rattlesnake had bit me--if it wasn't that, I thought a horse had kicked me,"
said the woman. "I looked down and saw the knife in my abdomen and the blood coming
out." The woman testified that Rogers told her he just couldn't trust her any more and was
afraid that she might turn him in for having sex with her while she was underage. Fearing
that he would finish her off, she lied to him and told him she loved him.
"I said, 'Dayton, I love you.' He began to tell me he would marry me and do anything," she
said, if she promised to tell the police she stabbed herself accidentally. She agreed to his
But doctors at Eugene's Sacred Heart Hospital told her they didn't believe the wound was
self-inflicted. "I was afraid he would come there and kill me," she said. Then, she added,
she changed her mind and told police the truth.
Another witness told the jury about an incident that occurred between her and Rogers on
February 20, 1976. According to the witness, who was 19 at the time of the incident,
Rogers picked her up as she walked toward Salem to visit her boyfriend, who was
incarcerated at the Oregon State Correctional Institution.
The woman was in the back seat of Rogers' car when he suddenly pulled over and took a
knife from the glove compartment. She said he "hogtied" her and then cut off her clothing
with the knife.
"I was scared he was, you know, he was going to kill me," said the woman. "He said he
had to kill me because he was afraid I'd go to the police." She testified that Rogers
eventually let her out of the car near her grandmother's home in Oregon City.
Janet K. Anderson, a Clackamas County corrections officer who supervised Rogers while
he was on parole for the 1976 coercion conviction in which he tied up two other high
school girls at knifepoint, testified that she interviewed the defendant in September 1982.
"I asked him if he were to do this all over again, if he would do anything differently,"
Anderson testified. "He indicated...there would not be a witness next time."
When cross-examined by Defense Attorney Knauss, Anderson told the jurors that she
took Rogers' statements seriously, but hadn't included them in her report.
"Mr. Rogers' intentions appear sincere to maintain counsel and to remain crime-free,"
Anderson wrote in a letter to the State Board of Parole, part of which was read to the
jury. "Mr. Rogers does not appear to be a threat to the community." The parole officer
added that the language used in the letter and her report was typical of language used
when terminating parole supervision. She said her personal notes on Rogers, however,
"indicated that the suspect appears well-adjusted, but because of the crime and the
surrounding circumstances, one never knows."
At another point in the trial, Rogers testified in his own defense before the seven-man,
five-woman jury. He told them he paid Jennifer Smith $40 for a sexual encounter that
involved bondage. He explained that when he got out of the truck to urinate, after having
bound Jennifer's hands and feet with shoelaces, the prostitute slipped out of her bindings
and took a knife from the glove box. When he got back inside the truck, "that's when she
Rogers said that Jennifer, while still nude, held the knife to his throat and ordered him not
to move and to give her his wallet. "Do it or die," he said Jennifer told him. He refused
and fought back. Fearing for his life, he said he knocked her arm away and wrestled her
for the knife, which he eventually obtained.
"I got a hold of it and used the knife on her...I was just going back and forth in virtually
any direction I could," testified Rogers, explaining how Jennifer received so many cuts.
She eventually jumped from the truck, and he chased her across the parking lot. He
eventually grabbed her, he said, and she fell to the pavement.
"Both of our feet entangled," he said. "She went down backward, and I fell down on top
of her. On the way down, that's when I stabbed her in the upper area here," he testified,
indicating the right side of his chest, near the shoulder.
"No one wants Dayton Leroy Rogers released," Knauss had said only minutes before the
jury left the courtroom to decide his client's fate. "I don't want him released. You don't
want him released. I question whether Mr. Rogers even wants himself released. What is
needed is permanent isolation of this man. In his fantasyland, he's become the sexual
monster you've heard about from these girls. He's developed and nurtured these feelings
into a ritual. It's a pattern you can't ignore. He's a sick man.
"But do we kill him? Do we have a death sentence for people who are as sick and
depraved as this?" continued Knauss. "Look at the evidence. After the killing of Miss
Smith, he goes back to work and thinks about going out to a coffee shop. The state has
proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he's a sick man." But, argued Knauss, he doesn't
deserve a death sentence.
Four hours later, the twelve jurors returned and announced that they had unanimously
voted that the murder of Jenny Smith was deliberate. They also unanimously voted that
Jennys murder was an unreasonable response to any provocation from the victim.
However, after one juror adamantly opposed the death penalty, all twelve agreed that
Rogers would not pose a continuing threat to society because he would be imprisoned for
life. Judge Gilroy immediately sentenced Dayton to life in prison.
Detective John Turner and his colleagues were devastated by the sentence. The jurors
apparently thought that a life sentence meant that Dayton would never be released, but
they had been wrong. Under a life sentence he would be eligible for parole someday, even
if it was twenty or thirty years down the road. They had inadvertently given Dayton Leroy
Rogers yet another chance to escape his just punishment, another chance to slip through
the cracks of the system.
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
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?"
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
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
"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
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."
Although John Turner, his colleagues, and Andy Eglitis couldn't have been happier with
the outcome, they knew that the bizarre case of Dayton Leroy Rogers was not over. It
would never be over in their lifetimes, even if Dayton's appointment with the executioner's
needle was, in fact, ever carried out. Dayton had left behind too many deaths, too many
scars, too many shattered lives, not only among his own family but, especially, among the
families of his countless victims, whether dead or alive, for his rampage to be quickly
Aside from testifying at his first trial, Dayton Leroy Rogers has not spoken to authorities
since invoking his rights against self-incrimination shortly after his arrest for the murder of
Jenny Smith, and again when Detective Machado tried to question him about the Molalla
forest murders. He has shown no remorse for his crimes. The Oregon Supreme Court
upheld his convictions, but his sentence of death was overturned by the Oregon Supreme
Court in the spring of 2000 for the second time. Dayton will at some point, likely in the
year 2001, go back to court for yet another sentencing phase. If he is resentenced to
death, he will die by lethal injection. Otherwise, he will be sentenced to life in prison with
no possibility of parole, an option now available due to the enactment of recent legislation.
For now, Dayton sits in a single cell on Death Row at Oregon State Penitentiary. He is
allowed twenty minutes out of every twenty-four hours to shower, shave, and exercise.
Many of Dayton Leroy Rogers's surviving victims have started new lives, working to
overcome drug habits and become productive citizens. A few have died as a direct result
of their life-styles, and others are still working the streets.
Molalla Victim #6 is still unidentified, and there are no new leads to her identity.
One burning question remains in the case of Dayton Leroy Rogers: How many other
bodies, victims of Dayton's blood lust, are still lying in Oregon's forests awaiting
discovery? Unfortunately, unless Dayton decides to talk, that question may never be