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Cold case no more: Pennsylvania man charged in wife's 1983 homicide

Cold case no more: Pennsylvania man charged in wife's 1983 homicideā€

Debra Rodgers disappeared on 22 April 1983. A preliminary hearing is set for Friday.

State police at Harrisburg arrested Rodgers.

The case received renewed attention starting in 2016, when two prosecutors from the Office of Attorney General attended a monthly cold case meeting with the Pennsylvania State Police.

Debra Rodgers was 23 at the time of her death.

The search was called off later that evening without locating Debra Rodgers, but her husband insisted on returning her auto to the family's farm despite her relatives' concerns that she would be stranded in the harsh elements without a vehicle, Shapiro said.

Carl Rodgers, 62, was arrested Monday and charged with homicide in the death of Debra Jane Rodgers, his 23-year-old wife who lived with Rodgers and their 5-year-old daughter in a trailer in Perry County.

A man in Pennsylvania has been charged with the murder of his wife after a review of the 1983 cold case led to a re-examination of her death in Perry County, the state's attorney general said. Debra's family was concerned she would be stranded in the cold without it, but Carl Rodgers insisted on driving the auto back to the home where the couple lived with their 5-year-old daughter.

"That was completely at odds-completely at odds-with how her family and co-workers saw her and knew her at that time", Shapiro said.

That was a Saturday.

"For more than three decades, the family and friends of Debra Jane Rodgers have sought justice, and wondered if this day would ever come", Attorney General Shapiro said today at a news conference with the Pennsylvania State Police in Perry County. By 7 p.m., her auto was found.

Investigators said Carl Rodgers led Debra Rodgers' family to her abandoned auto in a remote area of a nearby state forest, then insisted on driving it back home.

That road became a sticking point for modern investigators.

A grand jury is recommending homicide charges against Carl Rodgers.

Another brother, David Peters, said Carl Rodgers was "subdued and quiet", and avoided eye contact with his in-laws.

The search was called off that evening without finding Debra. Carl Rodgers refused to leave the auto, despite family members' concerns over her coming back in the cold and not finding it or having shelter or transportation.

Her body was found shortly after with slashes to both wrists.

She was hundreds of yards from her vehicle, with indications she had been dragged. A knife with the name "Carl" written on it was found a short distance away.

On the night of her disappearance Debra returned home late from her job at Little Buffalo State Forest near the couple's home.

Both a friend and Carl Rodgers' second wife Laurie Mohler testified that he told them his first wife committed suicide.

Coworkers and supervisors testified Debra Rodgers was not suicidal.

Evidence showed that she was a competent employee and loving mother.

Police said Debra had applied for a job with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which would have meant a pay increase.

Rather than suicide, autopsy results showed a beating that left blunt force injuries on her head and torso.

Yes, he said, there were cuts to her wrist, but they had been made close to - or after -the time she died and were "extremely unlikely" to have been self-inflicted.

The grand jury said it heard testimony that Debra Rodgers excelled at her job, had recently landed another state job that paid more money, and seemed happy, contradicting her husband's claims.



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