John Reigh Hoff was identified on November 19, 2021 as the lead suspect in the March 6, 1959 rape and murder of 9-year-old Candice (‘Candy’) Rogers in Spokane, Washington. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Hoff.
Candy was a Camp Fire girl, selling mints door-to-door, when she went missing. Hundreds of people from the community joined in to search for the little girl. Three men, all members of the Air Force, died when their helicopter hit a power line and crashed. Her body was found about two weeks after she went missing. She had been raped and strangled with a piece of her clothing. Her body had been dumped in the brush and covered in pine needles and branches. Grape-flavoured gum was found on her clothing.
A DNA profile of the suspect was developed from semen taken from Candy’s clothing in 2000. There were no matches to samples in the CODIS database. Hugh Morse, a known serial killer who had long been a suspect in the case, was exonerated when his DNA did not match that of the suspect.
The FGG investigation was conducted by Othram Inc. They narrowed-down the suspect list to three brothers, all of whom were deceased. John Hoff was the only brother to have had a child. Police obtained a DNA sample from his daughter, Cathie, and they confirmed that she was the daughter of Candy’s murderer. Hoff’s body was then exhumed, and his DNA was confirmed to be consistent with the suspect’s DNA profile.
Hoff was convicted of a sexual assault in 1961 in which he accosted a woman and tied her up with her own clothing and strangled her. She survived, and Hoff was sentenced to 6 months in prison. Hoff died by suicide in 1970 at the age of 30. He would have been about 19 years old at the time of Candy’s murder. His step-sister was Candy’s big sister in her Camp Fire Girls group, although it is not reported if he knew Candy personally.
Sarnoff reports that his daughter, who had assisted with his identification as the killer, stated that, “He was evil … he got to die with people thinking he was an upstanding man, and he wasn’t.” Other surviving family members removed Hoff’s remains from the cemetery, as Candy was also buried there.
This is reported to have been Spokane’s oldest cold case.
Briggs, Nick. “Candy Rogers Cold Case Murder Solved.” Spokane City (Press Release), November 19, 2021. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://my.spokanecity.org/police/news/2021/11/19/candy-rogers-cold-case-murder-solved/.
Carroll, Megan, and KREM Staff. “Hoe Spokane Police Cracked 1959 Cold Case Murder of Candy Rogers and Identified Her Killer.” KREM 2 News, November 19, 2021. Accessed December 3, 2021. https://www.krem.com/video/news/crime/how-spokane-police-cracked-1959-cold-case-murder-of-candy-rogers-and-identified-her-killer/293-69fb6677-deac-4db0-8d72-a1061190c17c.
Mason, Greg. “Spokane Police Detectives to Unveil Person they Say is Responsible for 1959 Killing of Candy Rogers.” Spokesman-Review, November 18, 2021. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/nov/18/spokane-police-detectives-to-unveil-person-respons/.
Sarnoff, Marisa. “Spokane Police Solve 1959 Cold Case of 9-Year-Old Girl Who Was Raped and Murdered While Selling Mints.” Law & Crime, November 19, 2021. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://lawandcrime.com/crime/spokane-police-solve-1959-cold-case-of-9-year-old-girl-who-was-raped-and-murdered-while-selling-mints/.
Vogen, Michael. “Spokane Police Partner with Othram to Identify the 1959 Murder of Candice Rogers.” DNASolves.com, November 19, 2021. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://dnasolves.com/articles/candice_rogers/.