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Ep. 121/122 The Molalla Forest Killer

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Part 1: "Steve the Gambler"

Oregon has seen its fair share of serial rapists and killers, but few have gained the term prolific. One, in particular, earned that title in the late 1980s. In today’s case, we discuss the origin story of a man who was known on the streets as “Steve the Gambler”, a man who had a wife and child at home, who owned a successful business, and who cruised the streets at night looking for a vulnerable female to be his victim. This is the story of the Molalla Forest Killer Part 1.

For photos and sources for today’s episode, check out the Murder in the Rain Episode Blog.

Episode Host: Emily Rowney

Part 2: "Screwdriver"

In last week’s episode, I introduced you to a man named Dayton Leroy Rogers, who was known by local sex workers as a creepy character they called “Steve the Gambler”; a man who enjoyed bondage had a foot fetish and enjoyed inflicting pain on women. Rogers was arrested for the murder of Jennifer Lisa Smith in the summer of 1987. Shortly after his arrest, while they prepared for his upcoming murder trial, authorities made the gruesome discovery of several bodies hidden in the Molalla Forest in Oregon. The similarities between the Molalla Forest discovery and Jennifer Smith were undeniable, and soon detectives would unveil a prolific serial killer who would go on to have the longest-running court case in Oregon history.

Episode Host: Emily Rowney

Dayton Leroy Rogers photos from Canby Current, Clackamas County, KGW

Dayton Leroy Roger's 1985 light blue Nissan truck, images from Oregon Live

Left: Dayton Leroy Roger's mug shot, Roger's shop, the rear of the light blue Nissan truck (1985)

Right: The Denny's parking lot, shoelace, and Jenny Smith's clothing

Images from Gary C. King's Blood Lust: Portrait of a Serial Sex Killer

The Regency Sheffield 5" kitchen knife

Image from Gary C. King's Blood Lust: Portrait of a Serial Sex Killer

Jennifer Lisa Smith photos from

Top Left to Right: Lisa Marie Mock (Jane Doe #2), Maureen Ann Hodges (Jane Doe #7), Christine Lotus Adams (Jane Doe #5)

Bottom Left to Right: Nondace "Noni" Kae Cervantes (Jane Doe #3), Reatha Marie Gyles (Jane Doe #1), Cynthia Diane DeVore (Jane Doe #4)

Jane Doe #6 was eventually identified using DNA in 2013 as Tawnia Jarie Johnson

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Gary C. King - Blood Lust: Portrait of a Serial Sex Killer | Dayton Leroy Rogers, Oregon's most prolific serial killer, could be charged in eighth slaying - | Supreme Court Overturns Death Sentence of Molalla Forest Killer | Serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers pleads for life, acknowledges killing eighth woman (video) - | Woman says she wants to talk to serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers, the man who murdered her mother - | OPB - Oregon Supreme Court Overturns Death Sentence of Molalla Forest Killer | Justia - State v. Rogers | World’s Most Evil Killers - S5E17 Dayton Leroy Rogers | Murderpedia - Dayton Leroy Rogers | The Bulletin - 02.12.1988 Former prostitute recounts torture | Corvallis Gazette-Times - Molalla suspect is reindicted in stabbing | YouTube - Serial Killer: Dayton Rogers | Clackamas Sheriff - Remains of suspected eighth victim of serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers identified; additional tips sought | Oregon Live - Serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers pleads for life, acknowledges killing eighth woman |Oregon Live - Death sentence of serial killer Dayton Rogers overturned again by Oregon Supreme Court | Oregon Live - Fifth sentencing for serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers delayed; jury must weigh in on crimes | Findagrave - Nondace Kae “Noni” Cervantes (1960-1987) |

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I grew up in the Molalla forest during the 1980s. There were quite a few people who raised homing pigeons in the area. We took ours up into the mountains in the forest and released them, to train them. There were multiple racing clubs in the area as well. The hummer that found the first body, was a friend of my dad's. It was a scary time to live out there. It had always felt safe until then. Thanks for telling the story.

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