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Great grandson of Spokane founder A.M. Cannon says he supports playground being named after Candy Rogers

The great grandson of Spokane founder A.M. Cannon spoke exclusively with KREM 2 about his support in naming a playground after Candy Rogers.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The push continues to name a Spokane playground after a young girl who was murdered more than 60 years ago. Along with the girl's family, the great grandson of one of Spokane's founding fathers is speaking out in support of the idea to name a city playground in the girl's memory.

The disappearance and death of Candy Rogers was the oldest cold case in the state of Washington. It remained unsolved for more than six decades before Spokane Police announced they'd found her killer in 2021.

Candy went missing on March 6, 1959, while selling Campfire mints in her west Spokane neighborhood. After 16 days of searching, two airmen from Fairchild were hunting off Old Trails Road, northwest of Spokane, and found Rogers' shoes on March 21, 1959. 

That same day, her body was found. 

Spokane police said they never stopped investigating her death. Ultimately, cutting-edge DNA technology led them to John Reigh Hoff. He was 20 years old at the time of Candy's death and lived less than a mile away from her.

Shep Clarke, the great grandson of Spokane founder A.M. Cannon, was just four years old at the time of Candy's murder.

"The Candy Rogers case was something I sometimes would think about, because it had such an impact on me as a little kid," Clarke said. "It was such a big deal in Spokane life for years afterwards. Back then, Spokane was very peaceful, very calm, low crime. Something like this was like a lightning bolt. And I think people were stunned and shocked as a community for years after that."

A.M. Cannon helped settle the Spokane area almost 150 years ago. There is now a park named after him in the West Central neighborhood.

"I believe that [my grandfather] came to Spokane in a covered wagon in the late 1880s. When they arrived, the town site was called Spokane Falls," Clarke said. "And in our family lore, there were only 12 people living on the town side at the time. And he was quite an entrepreneur."

Ever since Candy's case was solved, her family has been working to have the playground at A.M. Cannon Park named after her, as it was where she used to play. According to Clarke, there are many reasons the city should name the playground in her honor.

"I think that it'd be a real good thing to have this subset of the park memorializing Candy Rogers, just as the park memorializes A.M. Cannon," he said.

There have been concerns that having Candy's name on a sign at the playground could bring up uncomfortable questions from children. In Clarke's opinion, those concerns are unfounded.

"I would say that those are exactly the kind of teaching points and teaching moments that need to be done," he added. "You're not going to keep yourself safe by putting your head in the sand and having no tactical awareness at all. We do these things for a reason and, frankly, I just don't see any downside to it at all."

The Spokane Park Board has the final say on naming the playground in A.M. Cannon Park after Candy. Their next meeting is set for Thursday afternoon.

Candy's family plans to be there to, hopefully, convince the board to approve the Candy Rogers Memorial Playground.

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