Number of victims: 8
Date of murders: 1987
Method of murder: Stabbing
Like many serial killers, Dayton Leroy Rogers showed signs of his aberrant psychology early in life. At 15, he stabbed his girlfriend in the stomach, earning four years probation. A year later, he attacked two teenaged girls with a soda bottle. This time, he was acquitted on grounds of diminished responsibility and sent to a state mental hospital, where he remained until December 1974.
In January 1976, Rogers was indicted for first-degree rape, a charge of which he would eventually be found not guilty. However, while awaiting trial, he committed two more knife-point rapes and this time was sent to prison for five years. The prosecutor at that trial called Rogers a “murder case looking for a place to happen.” Those words would turn out to be prophetic.
In the early morning hours of August 7, 1987, the mutilated corpse of prostitute Jennifer Smith was found in a Portland parking lot. A pickup was seen fleeing the scene and an eyewitness passed on the license plate number to police, leading to the arrest of Rogers at his home. Shortly thereafter, several prostitutes came forward to testify how they’d been beaten and tortured by Rogers.
On August 31, police were summoned to a timber farm near Molalla, Oregon, where a hiker had found the decomposing remains of a woman. A search of the area turned up the bodies of six more victims, all of them showing signs of torture prior to death. Evidence pointed to Dayton Rogers, but he escaped indictment on grounds of insufficient evidence. When he went on trial in January 1988, it was only for the murder of Jennifer Smith.
Rogers presented a quite ludicrous defense at trial, claiming self-defense. He was found guilty of aggravated murder on February 20, and sentenced to life imprisonment.