FAIRBANKS, Alaska Johnny Rogers went missing on June 15, 2010 in Fairbanks. In September of that year his remains were found by his truck off of the parks highway near Ester. Since then, Johnny’s family has been looking for answers.
Johnny Rogers (Left), A picture of his art (center), and a picture of his brother Alton Rogers (right). Photos courtesy of Alton Rogers.
Earlier this year, troopers arrested a suspect. Cornelius Francis Benedict, 47, of Emmonak was detained in Bethel for murdering Johnny Rogers.
“The grand jury indicted him for murder in the first degree and tampering with physical evidence for acts committed on or about June 15 of 2010," Assistant District Attorney David Buettner said.
Benedict pleaded not guilty over the phone in late May and was supposed to make his first court appearance in Fairbanks Superior Court today but refused to be transported from Fairbanks Correctional Facility.
Alaska State Trooper investigator, Sergeant Jeremy Rupe has been working on the case.
“Mr. Benedict was developed as a suspect because he was one of the last people who had talked to Mr. Rogers on the telephone,” said Rupe.
Rupe said that it took time to corroborate Benedict’s stories and they had to wait for lab results before they could charge him.
Johnny’s brother, Alton Rogers lives in Texas with most of Johnny’s family. He said for him the arrest brings closure.
“I know I’m glad… It’s finally putting something behind us,” Alton said.
Alton said he doesn’t know why anyone would do this. When we spoke with him over the phone he described Johnny as a prominent member of the community who would volunteer his time to help others. He said everyone knew him.
“Everybody knew Johnny and say, 'Hi Johnny, Hi Johnny, how you doing today Johnny?' I mean he knew everybody and everybody knew him."
Alton said Johnny retired in Alaska and spent much of his free time working on his art. He said he would never have thought in his life that something like this would happen to them.
“Its immediate family, it's someone you love and you don't understand it. Well, I never thought it would happen to us,” said Alton.
Alton said that the family in Texas was excited to hear the news of an arrest in the case.
“Well, we had a good cry, that's what we did. Just like a while ago when I first started talking to you, I broke down," Alton said.
Alton who is 90 has lived in Texas his whole life. He wasn’t able to attend Johnny’s memorial service but his wife came up and said it went on for hours and everyone had something good to say about him.
Alton said he would love to be able to come up for the trial.
"I told them that's one of the reasons I am staying alive so long, because I am waiting to see the outcome of this,” said Alton.
He said he wants justice for his brother and he hopes the state can get the right person. When they do, he said, “I would like to look him right in the eye and ask him why he did it.”
For now, that goal seems a little bit closer.
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