Anatomy of Murder

A murder case has many layers: the victim, the crime, and the investigation. To truly understand it, you need to dissect each piece of a tragic puzzle. Join Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi and Scott Weinberger every Wednesday for an insider’s perspective, as they reveal to you the Anatomy of Murder.

Unpacking a Disappearance

Unpacking a Disappearance

Wed, 22 Sep 2021 07:00

A teenager disappears… then another young woman vanishes. But when a body is found in a suitcase in a landfill, investigators uncover an unsuspecting killer. For episode information and photos, please visit

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If you're looking for a new show unlike anything you've ever heard before, check out audio Chuck's latest series killed. Each episode of killed covers a story that you may have never read because it was killed before it got published. I'm Justine Harman, who some of you may know from my show OC swingers, and I'm here to bring these dead stories back to life binge killed right now to get the full story. Hi everyone, Ashley Flowers here and I have exciting news to share. My debut novel, all good people here is officially out now. Our fans are blowing up our social talking about it. You do not want to be left out and the worst thing that could happen is for someone else to spoil it for you because there are some wild twists in this book. If you love true crime content, mysteries, and a grown up Nancy Drew style detective work then I have a good feeling you won't be able to put this book down. So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of all good people here now, wherever books are sold. She stands up and she comes towards me at that point, thinking. I'm sitting there. I'm scared. I'm Scott Weinberger's, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. Quazi former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of Investigation Discovery's true conviction, and this is anatomy of murder. It's been almost a year since we launched anatomy of murder and we have to start with a thank you to all of you. Together you have created this dedicated, loyal, caring community that Scott and I so, so appreciate. I just wanted to add that I do read many of your comments online about anatomy of murder, and we're always looking to grow and improve the podcast, especially the audio quality of our guest interviews. It's not always easy since we talked to people all over the country using different types of audio devices, but for this episode we are deploying some new technology and you'll hear it today for the very first time. For today's case, I spoke with Kathy Rogers and I've covered her daughter's case for years. We first met back in 2012, and I am honored to be considered a friend. We lived in the San Joaquin Valley in California, and I thought it was paradise. I moved to Lubbock, TX and I thought we'd died and gone to hell. She is in Lubbock, TX, and she's been there since she was 12. The Lubbock area is the largest contiguous cotton growing region in the world and also known as the birth place, believe it or not, of rock'n'roll legend Buddy Holly. It was not a rural town, but it certainly was less busy than Dallas or New York. You know, you could hike on out into the cotton field. Didn't have to worry about the kids. Lubbock was built on a thriving farming industry, including cotton. In parts of the city, there are vast stretches of farmland dotted with residential homes. By the time I got married and started raising a family, this was the only place I wanted to be. Kathy became Kathy Rogers after she met and married Joe Bill, and you'll hear more about him later. And when the two of them decided to settle down, they chose Lubbock for their home. I'd made friends. We liked the schools. We thought this was a great place to raise our kids. The couple had two children. They had a boy first, William, and five years later they had a daughter, Joanna. She was a delight. She got into debate in high school and she wasn't afraid to talk. Whether you liked it or not didn't seem to matter. You know, Kathy describes the fact that Joanna came into the world with a smile and from an early age never had issues making friends. She always wanted to be involved as far as soccer, art, dance, gymnastics, learned to ski, love to swim, and this was at a fairly young age. She had a passion for theater and also a definite strong connection with her faith. She was extremely involved in her church. And while she was known for all of those things, what really stood out was her hair. She was in a junior high play and it was South Pacific and her director told her there are no blonde Polynesians. So you've got to dye my hair black and so me being the not hairdresser that I am, dyed her hair. And when we tried to undie the hair we couldn't get the blackout from that point on she had red hair. Everything that Kathy talks about with her daughter in so many ways comes down to almost every picture that I have seen of Joanna. There is this large, big smile on her face and it really goes to the. Lover of life, wanting to grab everything she can that's out there for her within her reach. She was a fun child, but hard to keep up with. Joanna came into high school in the 2000s and began dating a boy by the name of Marcus. My husband was trying to hone up his baseball bat and make sure that she stayed safe and kept the creeps off. Marcus spent a fair amount of time with us and he was more of a Gothic character. The interesting thing was that changed so much. It's like she blossomed that now. She was one of the girls, you know? She had a boyfriend. I always think about it as this. And for each one of you, like, think back in time, whatever was your first relationship, what do you remember about it? And for me, I do remember kind of you're part of the mix, this large crowd, but then you have this person that at least at that moment, just you feel like they have knocked you off your feet. And it really helps many people come into their own, almost helps form a stronger identity for themselves. And that certainly sounds true for Joanna with her boyfriend Marcus. On the surface, it was like any normal high school couple. But beneath the surface, was there something brewing with 16 year old Joanna Rogers that she hadn't told anyone about? May 3rd, 2004 Joanna had come home that night about midnight. She'd gone in to speak to her parents. She had left them in their bedroom after saying goodnight. About, oh, I would say two or three o'clock in the morning we heard some noises in the kitchen. Joe Bill turned over and tried to go back to sleep, but Kathy insisted that he check it out, and when he did, the noise had stopped. My husband got up and he checked the door toward the driveway, so he checked that. And he did not look out in the backyard or in the street back there to check anything back there because we didn't have anything of value in the backyard. Anytime you're awakened at anytime in the middle of the night, you're startled. It's 3:00 AM this is a community that things are spread out, but also there are animals out there that knock over garbage cans. You know, there are potentially kids still out and about. Remember, teenagers stay out late. Certainly they knew that their daughter had been out at that time more than once. I did catch her coming in at 3:00 o'clock in the morning on a couple of times. But when they checked it out, there was really nothing amiss. When she sent Joe Bill to check out the noise, he did not even think about going in to check that Joanna was in bed because they knew she had just come home around midnight and was probably fast asleep. I went back to wake her up for school. And she wasn't there. Her covers were thrown back, the coat she typically wore was on the floor. Her wallet was there, her cellphone, her car was there, her keys were there. So there was nothing to say that she had just left. But I mean, literally. She jumped up out of bed and left. At first, Kathy clearly not overly concerned her daughter had been out at that time of night before. I was not in a panic, but I was very confused about where in the heck could she be. We started calling around and Marcus hadn't seen her, he didn't know where she was, and then we called other friends and. Her son and her daughter-in-law lived a few blocks away, and Joanna was known to go by and offer to babysit. So did she get a call in the middle of the night? Did Joanna get a call from her sister-in-law in the middle of the night asking to help with the baby? However, it was one item in particular that really gave Kathy pause. After we had exhausted all other things and I went to her bed, I found her blanket. It was her baby blanket, but it was tucked under her pillow. And. I knew that if she was planning to run away, there was no way she wouldn't have taken her blanket. She may have taken everything else, but after 16 years, that girl would take you to camp. She would take it. She wasn't embarrassed that it was her baby blanket. She's going to take it. So there's no way she would have left home willingly without taking her blanket. I've heard Kathy talk in the past about that blankie, that single piece of satin that Joanna felt was so close to her, even at 16 years old. And every time I hear that story, whether it was 12 years ago or heard it when I talked with her on the phone, it still hits me to my core. The innocence. It's your child, whether she is 16 or six months old. It is that piece of what was probably no more than, you know, a thin, well worn cloth at that point. That is the. Thing that Kathy, to this day still thinks of, of what she last saw in her daughter's room. By 10:00 o'clock we had covered every base we know of to cover and we called the Sheriff's Office. First, deputies on scene suspected that this was just a simple case of a 16 year old who left home on her own. Basically, he treated it as a runaway. And there was not very much that we could do as far as convincing them that she didn't run away. An investigative diagnosis, if you will. All too common in the initial steps of these types of calls, but in some cases one that could overlook critical clues when time is of the essence. I knew that it was possible. I mean, I know that she was quite capable of being on her own, but it's very unusual for her to do it without taking any of her stuff or taking a car. But, you know, no one knows their child often better than the parents, and that was the case here. And they quickly turned investigators eyes around. And it was at that point that not only did the search begin, but that investigator started looking critically suspiciously to those closest to Joanna. The persons of interest were my husband and me. As difficult as it is to say these things, it is procedure. It's protocol to look at the ones who are last seen with the person who's suspected to be missing under suspicious circumstances. But you know that procedure, that formality is again based on the numbers. And Mom and Dad were two of the people clearly closest to Joanna. So investigators were very quick to clear both Kathy and Joe Bill, so their attention would naturally go to markers. There is so often things going on beneath the surface that people that just know things outwardly never see behind closed doors. So when you hear about her boyfriend that he's at the top of their list, what's your head telling you there? Marcus is a data point. Marcus is somebody you need to go to and get as much information and make a determination of. Whether you need to dig deeper down that rabbit hole or you need to clear him, I'm anxious not only to ask Marcus what he knows. But to ask Joanna's other friends about their relationship with Marcus. The boyfriend went through hell and high water over this. And then soon too, they crossed Marcus off the list. But that list wasn't done because now they had a fourth person that they looked at quickly. Joanna was working at a subway about 3:00 or 4 miles from our house. She told the parents of the night she disappeared. I talked to her just before she came home that a coworker at the sandwich shop made her uncomfortable. He was harassing her, making lewd comments and so forth, but she had said it was resolved. Investigators quickly began the process of idling the coworker and seeking him out. When the detectives came, we did tell them that she had been having an issue with that particular young man. We had never met him. And then they found out that it ran much deeper. There had been some instances where he may have come while she was on duty and he wasn't and just kind of badgered her. That he'd actually been seen sitting in his car, watching her. While she worked. You know, that was kind of creepy. Investigators weren't the only ones looking to have that discussion with the coworker. Joanna's father, Joe Bill, also took action. And here's a side note on Joe Bill. When you look at his resume, you may think he's the most interesting person on Earth. You know, for all of you out there that know the movie Forrest Gump, the man whose life. Took him in unbelievable paths that no one ever saw coming. While Joe Bill had been a horse trainer, he was a shrimp boat captain in Papua New Guinea, Australia, the Philippines, not to mention the Gulf of Mexico. He worked in the circus, nearly lost his thumb and he was an exotic animal dealer. He had a pet shop amongst other things and he did not deal in birds, cats, dogs or fish. Everything else was fair game. So we had monkeys. We had rats, lizards, snakes. Big snake guy. He had already lost a finger to a rattlesnake bite. And been asphyxiated. I think he brought home some llamas. One time he brought home a zebra. No camels. I mean, you just think about one person having done any one of those things, and this guy had done all those things. It was a wild ride at our house and it didn't stop there. My husband also happened to be a private investigator. Joanna's father, Joe Bill, was also on the case. I think my husband did go up to subway and check on the situation, and I think they ruled it out. But while investigators were able to locate and question Joanna's coworker from the subway shop, they quickly confirmed his whereabouts on the night she went missing and based on other factors as well, cleared him as a potential suspect and although Kathy pointed out for months, others in the community believed. He was somehow involved. The hard part was there was absolutely no trace of which way she might have gone with little to go by. There was a 2 pronged approach into the investigation, looking for Joanna and looking into Joanna. Her computers were examined forensically by not only law enforcement and probably FBI, the private investigators that my husband was familiar with. And basically, investigators are trying to learn more about her digital life and who else may have information about where Joanna is. But it wasn't just the investigators because it was also Joe Bill. His reaction was, I know people in the industry that look for missing children, specifically a man that he knew who specialized in looking for missing children, and he enlisted his help to also on his own to see if he could help find their daughter. Kathy made it clear in the way she described Lubbock, TX as completely flat, a large and very difficult rural area. Back then to search, even with all the difficulty, the community came out and came out in numbers. We had a call from a search organization down around Dallas and they said we want to come in and organize a search for Joanna since the Sheriff's Office had done that. Everyday teams of regular people were combing the wide swath of land, looking for any evidence of where Joanna may be. We had people from my office and friends and neighbors, and they would gather up the folks, do a grid, and have people walk in within arms length of each other. Three weeks into Joanna's disappearance, the community held, really a countywide search, and over 700 people showed up. There's a lot of space around our house, you know, and so they were walking the fields back there behind our house, going door to door, knocking on the doors, asking people if they'd seen Joanna. Check any kind of sheds or barns or garages to see if there's any sign of Joanna. As the days passed, the chances of finding Joanna alive were dwindling. Kathy told me it was the connection with her own faith that kept her going. How I got through every day. Was believing that. Joanna. Was. In Jesus arms that no matter what the story was. Or how many horrible tales I heard about what had happened to Joanna. I believed that Jesus was taking care of her. Because everything else was too horrible to process. So as long as I knew. That she and Jesus were there together. I could live with it. As painful as it is, not knowing where your child is and if they're safe or even alive, you would think Kathy's first place to turn to for support would be her church. For me, church was very much part of all of our lives. And while they were always there for her, she couldn't bring herself even to go to services. I could not go to church. Without bursting into tears. So I didn't go to services for probably two or three months. Because. Every time I burst into tears, the pastor thought I was. You know, he'd said something wrong. But they kept in touch. They came by they. If we wanted volunteers, we asked for volunteers. They were there. The Rogers weren't the only family in town facing the struggle. Joanna Rogers was not the only young teen missing in Lubbock, TX. In 2004. Jennifer Wilkerson and Joanna disappeared seven weeks apart. In fact, an eerily similar case. Another girl, Jennifer Wilkinson, was 26 years old, reported missing in July of 2004. Both of them were similar in that they both disappeared without a trace, and when this other young woman, Jennifer Wilkerson, went missing, she was last seen leaving the home of her then boyfriend. So for investigators, the question was, were these two situations separate or did they have something to do with one another? While local law enforcement, joined by the FBI and of course members of the community, all came together and the search for Joanna Media attention on the missing 16 year old was growing. The decision by the family to go public would grab headlines, but it would also bring in dozens of leads. For one thing, Joe Bill solicited and Joe Bills, my husband, he solicited this type of information because that's what a private investigator does. While there were many tips coming in from all over the country, it was one particular tip from 400 miles away. There was one in San Antonio that got the attention of everyone. They had got the call that somebody was holding her hostage. You know, they they actually went to San Antonio and raided this man's house. There was nothing to it. It actually ended up being a ex-girlfriend trying to get back at her boyfriend, so she had used the disappearance of Joanne as a way to try to do that. And it happened to be some girlfriend that got ahold of Joanna's picture. Media attention in these high profile cases is always a double edged sword. On one hand, potential case breaking leads could be obtained. On the other hand, there are some evil people in the world who seem to take advantage of these scenarios and develop their own theory into what they believe to be solid leads, reaching out to police, or even potentially in some cases through social media, which drives me completely nuts. That would tell us that she'd been ground up in a woodchopper, or that she was being held hostage as a sex slave, or that she was part of the sex traffic trade. Theories that go out on social media and people post them and share them for all sorts of reasons. And it's unfortunate that family members and victims and communities read these things and spread that information as actual theories spread that information is is investigative beats. I mean, it's hard enough to be living every day waiting for that knock on the door or waiting for the phone to ring as a victim's family member waiting for information, but when you start reading these theories? Reading this garbage that could really add to the tremendous amount of stress that a family goes through when they're trying to get answers about a loved one. And I can't tell you how many times I had to have those conversations with families and say, I know you don't want to be in a bubble. And I know you want to get as much information and you deserve to have all the information, but not all of it is true. But the majority of it honestly is just crap and that just makes my blood boil. Seriously, it is hurtful. I could not let my mind grab onto all of that. There was always thoughts about what's happened to Johanna. And. The one thing. I mean, we heard stories. Of course we heard stories. But I couldn't let myself run away with these stories. It would make me nuts. I give Kathy so much credit for how she endured that time in her life, with all the information coming in and most of it not truthful. You know, she insulated herself with her loved ones, insulated herself with her faith. And she was able to survive, and I really tipped my hat to her for that. The one year anniversary came around and the post office printed up cards for the postman to deliver. That had Joanna's picture on it and it was kind of a have you seen me picture that they put in people's mailboxes in Lubbock? And while all this is swirling around them, Joanna's family never gave up hope for what ultimately became years. More than a year later, in the fall of 2005, Kathy gets a call with disturbing news. We were in New York doing another interview and we got the call from our search and rescue team captain. This was the way she put it to me. She called and she said Kathy, they found a body. The landfill worker in Lubbock noticed a suitcase amongst a pile of debris and in it was the lifeless body of a nude woman. There were approximately 50 to 70 trauma wounds on the body and visible markings around her neck, suggesting strangulation. There was also a clear sign of sexual assault. The victim was female and she was about five weeks pregnant. She had a slender bill and she had light red hair. And she said it's not Joanna. More than a year later, in the fall of 2005, a worker in a landfill found the lifeless body of a nude woman. She had red hair. She was similar in build to Joanna, but it is not Joanna and it is not Jennifer Wilkinson either. And she wanted to be sure and let me know before we got the news from someplace else. So investigators looked at the young woman that they'd found in that suitcase. One of the first things they noticed was that she had a small tattoo on her ankle, which read summer, and they ultimately identified the body as that of 29 year old summer Baldwin. That young woman was originally from New Mexico, and she had struggled with different times of substance misuse. And a friend had actually reported last seeing summer back on September 11th of that year, and she was seen in the passenger side of a red pickup truck. The driver was an attractive, clean cut, Hispanic looking young man with short dark hair. But here's another interesting thing is that Joe Bill, Joanna's father, actually knew some are from some years before. Summer's mother had called Joe Bill and said my daughter's in Lubbock and I would like for you to find her and take her to her aunt. In New Mexico. And he did. And I remember the day when he called me and said I'm not going to be home for supper because I've got something I've got to take care of. Are these two young women now the object and ultimate prey victim of 1 singular killer? And that's exactly what investigators wonder, too. The biggest challenge for investigators at the site where the body was found was the very location where the body was discovered, a county landfill with tons and tons of rotting garbage. But despite all those incredible challenges, one piece of evidence, one clue would stand out. The suitcase where the body was encased. On the handle of that generic suitcase was a plastic tag which made them believe that had been recently purchased. And there's more. A forensic investigator located inside the suitcase A12 numeric barcode and they were able to determine the manufacturer and where this is interesting locally, that suitcase. Was sold. They were able to make that connection with the local Walmart, the employee there confirming that the barcode was from their store. And not only that, but the barcode would also allow them to track the exact checkout line of where the item was bought. Now let's get back to it. Investigators looked at in that Walmart surveillance videos. They began watching hours of that footage, frame by frame. And then on one particular piece of video, timestamp, 3:30 PM on September 12th, investigators hit the jackpot. There is clear footage of a Hispanic male. Close cut hairstyle wearing a bright green polo shirt and not only does he purchase a suitcase, but that unknown male also buys a package of latex gloves. A videotape in the parking lot shows the man carrying the suitcase and placing it in his red, full size pickup. Using the information on the debit card transaction, they determined that man to be Rosendo Rodriguez. Let's just talk about Walmart for a second. You know, there are YouTube channels and videos about all the things that people get caught doing at Walmart and Big Thumbs up to Walmart. And that's because they have so many cameras around the store that people always get caught when they do things wrong there. And so I look at it. Certainly hear from investigators is that Walmart is an investigator's best friend. They picked up Rosinda, which was within probably 48 hours or less of finding summer. 25 year old Rosendo Rodriguez was a highly respected member of the Marine Corps with a 0 criminal background, meaning he never even had a single arrest. He was from San Antonio, but he was in Lubbock, TX on the weekends doing marine reserve training. Ramirez was staying at a Holiday Inn in Lubbock on the night of summer Baldwin's disappearance. Rodriguez claimed he had consensual sex with summer Baldwin and that afterwards she attacked him. She pulls out a knife. She stands up and she comes towards me at that point, thinking. Don't don't copy, please. And According to him, he killed her in self-defense. Rodriguez made further claims that he choked Joanna to death rather than given to her alleged extortion attempt. When they went and arrested Rosendo, they confiscated his computer and they learned that he was also tracking Joanna's story on his computer. From an investigative standpoint, just hearing that this guy is tracking Joanna's disappearance and the search for her, of course this goes to the top of every investigators list. I mean, it certainly does to mine. Did Joanna Rogers know Rodriguez? The 1st place they would go back to is the computer in her room to try to find a digital trail and who she may have been communicating with online early after he was arrested. I knew that there was a link between. Joanna and Rosendo now this was 2004. Online chat rooms were growing in popularity. So was online predators seeking out their prey. Was some of the beginning for investigators of using these resources. It was also new territory for forensic investigators. It was not uncommon for teenagers to create dozens of screen names, dozens of identities, and the key for investigators here, the key was trying to locate where the chats that Joanne or may have been having online and where their copy to her hard drive and were they able to determine who the conversations were with. Is one thing about it that while there were certainly challenges, sometimes I think about that time in a way easier because since it was all new IT was sometimes easier to get the information from these big mega technology giants. And they weren't being so inundated and there weren't so many issues surrounding to people trying to figure out what you're entitled to and even just resources if you will. So sometimes in a way, it was actually easier to get those answers back then digital forensic investigators would go through the hundreds of names and conversations. Located within Joanna Rogers Computer and then it was there. Once they knew his screen name, they could go back to the computer and find his screen name on Joanna's computer and know that he had been talking to her, Rosendo Rodriguez and Joanna Rogers conversing in a digital chat just hours before she went missing. I was not savvy enough to know the dangers. This was just becoming, you know, more prevalent. Well, you think about all this now. The first thing you think about with kids and teenagers and young people in particular is watch out for online predators. I mean, I can't even imagine any conversation that we talk about this online chat worlds without having that. But back then, Scott, right, I mean, it was so different. This was all brand new, and I don't think that our minds went there so quickly. I agree. I don't think parents were looking over their children's shoulders, determining that maybe they were even having conversations. I didn't monitor her computer. I did not. See it as a threat, and I don't think she did either. But she also found it very easy to make friends on those sites in 2004. Maybe your parents didn't realize what the technology did and what the technology was capable of and how vulnerable our kids could be, and I think that's it. That's exactly the right word for it. That vulnerability factor has. Come into the forefront with time, you know, fast and furious where it was. Just watch out what you're doing, kids. You're spending too much time on the computer. But until we actually saw it happening, we just didn't quite understand the vulnerable position that people put themselves in when they get online. Rodriguez was willing to sit down with investigators and talk to them. They had a mountain of evidence in the summer Baldwin case, so prosecutors know if they're ever going to get any possible information out of Rodriguez about Joanna. Address. They're going to have to make some kind of deal on it, Sega, and that is like that, shaking the hands with the devil. We've talked about that before and since I've had to do them, and I know that they are not popular decisions when we make them. I am the one who should talk about that, right? It's that no one wants to make a deal or hold the person who potentially may be responsible for such horrific loss any less accountable or or give them any less of a penalty than we all think they rightfully deserve. But sometimes it is the only way for answers, and I always think about it. Family members perspective. Nothing can heal that grief and that pain. But I always look at the unknown as even more excruciating and sometimes that is the only way in to get those answers. And so that's exactly what they did. They went to Rodriguez through his attorney and said, listen, you know, he is looking at potentially the death penalty for the evidence we now have against him. The charges for the murder of summer. Baldwin, however, they were willing to take the death penalty off the table if he was willing to talk to them. About Joanna Rogers give them answers and also lead them to her body. With the deal in hand, Rodriguez sat down with detectives and started to lay out what he says happened between him and Joanna Rogers. We went to the courthouse. We watched his confession. My family was there, the search team was there, some of the detectives were there, and the District Attorney was there. We all sat in the room and we watched it. Action of what happened the night Joanna disappeared. He told detectives how he met Joanna Rogers in a chat room they scheduled to meet in the early morning hours of May 2004. When he got to Joanna's home, he said she willingly came outside to meet him. Rodriguez claimed that after they had consensual sex, Joanna revealed she was underage and threatened to tell police. Rodriguez made further claims that he choked the teenager to death rather than give in to her attempted extortion, Rodriguez told investigators. His confession that he got a suitcase stuffed Joanna's lifeless body inside and just like he did with summer, Baldwin tossed that suitcase into a nearby dumpster, just like trash. You know, Anastasia, we've seen a lot of these alleged confessions before. The woe is me, the blaming the victim. Where does this one stack with you? BS, BS, BS. I've always said that it's so much of this comes down to common sense. I can't imagine that anyone of you out there listening does anything but shake your head when you hear it, because it doesn't even make sense, right? Did Joanna maybe go out willingly to meet him? Sure, I think that's possible. She is a teenager who we know is in touch with him and. Who knows, maybe she did go outside to meet him, but to hear his ridiculous story about this consensual relationship that then she tries to extort him for what? I mean, is there anything about Joanne or anything that we know that would lead her to do that or make that sound credible in any way? Of course not. And remember, he said something very similar about why it was that he had to murder Summer Baldwin. To be honest with you, when we watched this confession, we looked at each other and we said there's no way Joanna would have done that. There's no way that she would be sitting by our back gate, by our back fence, screaming her head off, and the dogs would not have gone crazy. I always look at it as while yes, sometimes killers do give a completely honest rendition of their acts, that is extremely rare and what I have at least seen very few and far between and more often than not they are trying to help themselves and I see nothing different than that when it comes to Rodriguez and what he said. Unless the forensic evidence leads down that same path of exactly what he says, it doesn't matter to me what matters to me in his confession and Sega is where he said he dumped the body, because that may in fact be true. That may in fact be the first step into bringing Joanna home. Just because he said he did it and he could point to a dumpster does not mean that you can go back almost two years and dig it up. That landfill in particular kept very good records of where in the landfill that various dumps were placed, but this landfill was the size of several football fields and now you had almost two years of debris on top of the area. That's an enormous undertaking. I knew that there was a very, very, very, very slim chance that they would be able to locate her and the acres and acres of trash and the two years worth of trash that would have been piled on top of her. So for months, investigators and people are searching in all the elements and all the heat. The fact is that the people who were looking for Joanna had to be certified law enforcement and they didn't get to sit in the patrol cars and drive around town. They were out in July and August. It was hot. It was 90 degrees. They're literally sifting through piles of garbage, having to wear full suits to protect them from anything that is toxic or anything that could be of harm for them. Some of it stinks like crazy. It's rotting. And so just imagine what they are going through and the incredible hurdles as they look for, you know, while it's a suitcase you've heard this term before, a needle in a haystack, if you will. It's dusty, it's hot. You're out in the middle of trash. But by October, there's no Joanna, and investigators have to unfortunately finally decide that the search just has to stop. I want to sidestep for a second because I want to just throw out one other theory that I'm sure investigators were at least thinking about. You know, they had to look at it. It was probably unlikely, but was Rodriguez using the disappearance of Joanna Rogers and confessing to it, only to attempt to take the death penalty off the table? I think for sure it's always a possibility. Do people confess to things for their own ulterior reasons when they aren't true? Sometimes. I had a lot of anger at what a lying sack of. Horse dung he was. But for Kathy and Joe, Bill and members of their community who had had just one goal for so long and that was to bring Joanna home, this news was basically them being told that that maybe wasn't going to happen. All that said, you know they're going to make us stop. We've been tying up equipment and manpower for two months, and they said it's time to stop. That broke my heart. And then less than 24 hours, something remarkable happened. I got the call the next day. I was in awe and that's when everything started coming together for us and Joanne. After months of searching this Texas landfill for the body of Joanna Rogers, everyone involved knew that at some point, without any progress, the search would be called off. In fact, they were given a date. So you can imagine as the deadline approached, literally everyone dug in. One of the searchers was raking, bit by bit, the area that they were signed and as they raked. The skeleton came out first. It was not in a suitcase. And they knew by the red hair. That it was Joanna. Joanna Rogers body had been discovered. They were within hours of having to stop. And they would define her. And soon after that. They found the suitcase. 904 days after she went missing, Joanna's family can finally give their precious daughter a proper burial. Thank God. Thank you, Jesus, for taking care of her and bringing her. I knew he was taking care of right now. It was a little bit of a surprise knowing that she was actually back. Above ground. You know, Scott, I think about how unbelievable that is 29 months after this young woman disappeared, one day before that search was going to be called off. You know, it really goes with that moniker that we have started to use of never give up. You know, what didn't you think that listener should take away when they hear this story? So much of my conversation with Kathy 12 years ago is still very fresh in my mind today, and much of my conversation with her just a few days ago. Reinforced all of those feelings I have. Kathy and her family deeply believed in faith. And whatever you may believe, the power of faith is for you. I believe it showed itself for the Rogers family on that day. Actually, that night wasn't wasn't that quiet if I remember correctly. There was a big deal in Lubbock and people started coming to the house. Some of us would talk to one or one news station, some of us would talk to the other. At one point in time, everybody got hungry and we went and got fried chicken. And we just had a lot of love around us. The story was far from over because there was another turn of events that no one expected. When the family of summer, Baldwin and Joanne Rogers and all the investigators involved in the case walked into the courtroom expecting Rodriguez to plead guilty to both murders, it appeared to be a sure thing, a plea deal which took the death penalty off the table for Rodriguez. When he. Came up before the judge to enter his plea. He reneged on the plea deal and pleaded not guilty. So you out there might be saying, well, wait a second, he said he was going to plead guilty. They only took the death penalty off the table if he was willing to give them this information, which he did. So he can't do that. But I can tell you, yes, he can. And while it doesn't happen often, it certainly isn't incredibly uncommon either. Well, now they're back in a trial posture and soon enough they're back in a courtroom, and Rodriguez is on trial for summer Baldwin's murder, and the death penalty is back on the table. In spite of the things they knew and the things they've done, they did not have enough evidence to try him for Joanna's murder. Both families, Joanna and Summers, attended the trial. It's the first time they will be in the same room with Rodriguez. Prosecutors created a chilling portrait of Rodriguez, a well respected marine by day and a potential serial killer at night. Once Rodriguez lured his victims into his world, any hope of survival was gone. My feeling was that he had no remorse. There was just no feeling whatsoever. Apparently Joanna and Summer were just a piece of trash like you treated him. I think that he probably thought he was going to get out of it. After all the evidence was in, the jury came back with a verdict as to this man Rodriguez, who had by now been dubbed the suitcase killer, and in 2008, Rodriguez was found guilty and sentenced to death. We went down there and witnessed the execution. It's was a relief the burden lifted that we didn't have to worry about that anymore. And without getting into the many thoughts and feelings people have about the death penalty for Kathy Rogers, she felt that at that point she could finally sigh some sort of breath of relief. I'm not sure that I have any. Regrets about not seeing her grow up. I've never thought of death as being a. A horrible thing. I miss her, yes. But do I wish she were here? You know, that's a good one. I just know I'll see her again, and I know that we'll be together again. And no, it'll be great. Kathy Rogers is a woman of deep faith, a mother so very proud of her daughter Joanna. All that she had accomplished in her short 16 years of life, her little girl with a fiery red hair was a force to be reckoned with. Cathy's husband, Joe Bill, died a few years ago, and she still credits the family of summer Baldwin, whose case led to bringing Joanna home. She gotten very close with Summer's mother, who sadly passed away just a few months ago. While now there is closure for the family of summer, Baldwin and Joanna Rogers, but for the family of Jennifer Wilkinson, those answers have yet to come. Investigators do believe the cases are not related, but they are not even sure whether Wilkinson is dead or alive, and to this day, it's still an open investigation. AO will be back in a couple of weeks on October 12th, which would be the one year anniversary of when we first launched. Here's just a taste of what's to come. When we took the skull out of the cement, it was like she was looking at me, you know? Like, hey, help me. You always think that you've seen it all and heard it all, and then something like this happens and it's like holy cats, you know? I was just floored by this guy had just confessed to killing four women. Attended many funerals in my family. This is probably like my #1 case. This was my first podcast. Your podcast is the first that wants to cover this case. I can honestly say that I first started this project with a sure, I'll try it and see how it goes. These conversations are insight were private conversations that Anna Sigga and I would have about cases, cases that we cared about, and I enjoyed our back and forth all the time, never even imagining that we'd be taking these conversations public. And it evolved into honestly something that I am not only proud of. That is a new mission that we have, which is to keep expanding and talking more about these people and the stories and the impact these cases have. And a huge shout out to the entire AM team. Matt Hall, our story producer, audio engineer Dayton Cole and resonate recordings story editor Phil Geo Grande and researchers Lisa Warner and Christina Gugino. Trey Anderson, who composed the theme song. And of course, all of you. To the families of the victims who have agreed to speak to Anna Sigga and I for this podcast, you have always been and will always be our focus. To the men and women who choose law enforcement and the criminal justice system as your profession, thank you for your service and your dedication. We know first-hand the sacrifices you have made. And to our new family, you, the listeners, for spending time with us each week, we thank you. Anatomy of Murder is an audio Chuck original, A Weinberger media and forseti media production summit. David is executive producer.