Perry County man charged in 1983 murder of wife

Elias Hubbard
November 15, 2017

Her body was found the next morning.

Both a friend and Carl Rodgers' second wife Laurie Mohler testified that he told them his first wife committed suicide. "He was the only individual with the motive to make her death appear to be a suicide", the grand jury said.

Debra Jane Rodgers, 23, was killed in Perry County in 1983.

Debra Rodgers returned home from her job at Little Buffalo State Forest on April 22, 1983, the day of her disappearance.

A Pennsylvania man has been charged with his wife's murder 34 years after her body was found in a remote wooded area, closing a cold case for investigators who "never stop seeking justice for victims", authorities said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the filing of murder charges Tuesday.

Rodgers, 62, of Shermans Dale, was the husband of Debra Rodgers.

The following day, Carl Rodgers contacted his wife's family to tell them she was missing. Investigators learned after her death that she had recently applied for a job with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board as an administrative aid, which would have meant a pay increase. Here is a link to the

Debra Rodgers was found in a wooded area along Route 850 in Northeast Madison Township on April 23, 1983.

"[Carl] Rodgers knew only the facts that a killer would know and gave inconsistent stories throughout to the police", Shapiro said. He later admitted to police that the couple had argued and he had grabbed her by the arm. Her brother, Dean Peters, testified that Carl Rodgers directed him as they searched, and the auto was found the first place they looked.

The search was called off that evening without finding Debra, but Carl Rodgers refused to leave her vehicle in the woods. Carl Rodgers suggested he search a ridge line with Debra's brother, while other family members search the woods below. A knife was found nearby, and the sheath had the name "Carl". The coroner determined that several tendons in both wrists had been cut and that it was extremely unlikely the injuries were self-inflicted.

Cold cases are the crimes that aren't solved, the ones where no one gets answers, the ones where justice never comes.

It has been 34 years, but homicide charges have now been filed.

"The grand jury was able to take the evidence that existed, hear from witnesses, hear from experts and piece it together in a way that had previously not been able to be done", he said.

Rodgers is being held in the Perry County Prison without bail.

"Since 1983, members of the Pennsylvania State Police have diligently investigated the untimely death of Debra Rodgers", said Lieutenant Mark A Magyar, Criminal Investigation Section Commander of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop H.

"The grand jury finds that Carl Rodgers concocted all the claims that Debra was depressed as well as the claims that she was struggling at work in order to support his efforts to make her death appear to be a suicide and not a homicide". According to the state Office of the Attorney General, the move came after collaboration between the OAG and state police, although the Perry County District Attorney's office is listed on court documents as the prosecutor in the case.

The case had been periodically examined by law enforcement over the last three decades, Shapiro said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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