Filed under: disappearance

The Very Strange Disappearance and Death of Loic Rogers

Mark Rogers walked his son Loic out into the dark of an early evening in Kalispell, Montana. It was around 6:45 p.m. on Thursday night, January 25, 2007. Mark left Loic there and went back in the house owned by his friend, Tommie Cates, leaving his 3-year-old son unattended for only a moment.

When Mark came back, his son was gone.

That’s the story Mark Rogers has been telling about his toddler’s disappearance.

Today, sadly, it is being reported that Loic JM Rogers’s body has been found.

The Daily Interlake published this article on Friday: “Day two looking for Loic.”

Loic’s mother Ariel Rogers was interviewed for the piece written by reporter Candace Chase. Ariel said she and husband Mark, who are separated, were to take polygraph tests Friday afternoon at the request of the FBI. Federal agents wanted to be sure the parents had nothing to do with their son’s vanishing.

Ariel Rogers told the paper there was no “problem at all” with taking the polygraph, and she seemed to be speaking for her husband as well.

A family spokesman said Mark ‘wasn’t feeling well’ and that this was why he gave no interviews.

Reports from authorities referenced by the Interlake article about Mark Rogers’s explanation of events on Thursday were… interesting. Mark apparently stated that once on the driveway, he told his 3-year-old to go ahead and get in the van. So, as his 3-year-old was getting in the van, in the dark, Mark Rogers went back inside the house.

Rogers had no explanation as to why he didn’t go that extra mile and put the boy in the van himself.

Ariel Rogers said in the interview that she and her husband were battling over their 3 kids. During their separation, Mark had been given custody.

Ariel Rogers also said, “We love our children. He (Mark) would never do anything to hurt our children.”

This is a MySpace.com search for the name “Mark Rogers” in the Kalispell, Montana zip code, 59901.

Two results came back, essentially empty profiles, at first glance. Both were for a 32-year-old Mark Rogers who gave his Astrological sign as Cancer.

The owner of one profile last logged in on January 12 of this year. Info left on the page showed he’d attended Columbia Falls High in Columbia Falls, MT, and graduated in 1993. This Mark Rogers had only created the profile on January 7.

This profile for Mark Rogers in Kalispell was created on January 13. The last login was on January 23, just a day or so before Loic disappeared.

Incidentally — both profiles state that the owner doesn’t want kids. This is MySpace.com’s default setting for all profiles. Don’t read anything into that.

I’ve seen members of the mainstream media make much hay of this detail in a person’s online profile. If you know how MySpace actually works, to single out that “don’t want kids” on a MySpace profile is just foolish. All that means is the owner didn’t fill out all the forms yet.

To me, it might be much more significant that the profile owner last logged in just a day or so before Loic Rogers disappeared. It leads me to wonder why — was there info he didn’t want seen by the public? If so, why was he removing it a good day and a half, two days before his name would hit the news?

Could be moot, if it isn’t the Mark Rogers who walked little Loic out of that house a few nights ago.

The Mark Rogers who says he left his 3-year-old on an icy driveway in the dark and cold, to see himself into the car.

There is a Websleuths.com discussion of this case, and a press conference will be given in Montana today, at 3 p.m. Mountain Time.

UPDATE, 5:50 p.m. ET

According to various reports from readers as well as the thread at Websleuths.com, Loic Rogers is said by police to have drowned in a septic tank on the property where he disappeared. Police in Kalispell appear to still be investigating, but at the moment, suspicion that Loic’s death was more than a terrible accident seems to be minimal.

And maybe it was just that — an awful accident. There are factors that still don’t make sense.

— It was no doubt dark, and cold. Most 3-year-olds I’ve dealt with (and as a father to 5 I’ve dealt with a few) hate being out in the cold too long, even if it’s snowing.

— How was Loic able to get the top off the septic tank, which apparently had a cover? My family had a septic tank, and it was practically a vault laid in the ground. Eventually we even buried the doors and my Dad fashioned a drainage system.

— How long, really, was Loic alone after his father went back in the house? I will also be the first tell you I know how fast three-year-olds can move. I’ve underestimated the speed with which all my kids can get in trouble at times.

I imagine questions will linger about this child’s death for some time. And no one will suffer from wanting those answers than his family and the good people in Kalispell who tried to find the boy.

UPDATE, 1/28/07, 12:18 a.m. ET

From the AP/CBS: “Toddler Found in Septic Tank“:

The body of Loic J.M. Rogers was found late Friday, and an autopsy showed that he drowned, Meehan said.

“This is a tragedy,” Meehan said.

It was unclear how the boy got into the septic tank, and the manhole-sized lid was closed. [Flathead County Sheriff Mike] Meehan did not classify the death as a homicide, but said investigators do not believe he could have climbed into the tank and put the lid back on himself. An investigation is continuing…

The portion in bold was my emphasis — that the boy could have opened a closed septic tank, possibly in freezing weather, made no sense to me at all.

This story seems to be migrating from a tragic missing persons case to a truly weird death investigation.

Additionally, for an example of a very thoughtful and informative comment, read what “Ty P” posted to this blog entry, here.

UPDATE, 1/28/07, 3:51 p.m. ET

In the comments left on this entry, EPS pointed readers towards a Topix.net discussion about Loic Rogers’s disappearance and death.

While you can be anyone you want to be on the Web, often the question I ask when someone claims to be an insider where a story like this is concerned is this: what do they have to gain by claiming to be who they are?

In the discussion EPS linked, a person claiming to be Loic Rogers’s grandfather in Missouri has been posting messages about the case, and what an impostor would have to gain from doing this is not clear to me. Certainly the sympathy of others, but how satisfying could that really be if you are not who you say you are?

Anyway, I acknowledge that it is easy for people to say they are someone else online. That said, the most recent Topix.net post by the man saying he was “grandpa” had one striking thing in it:

I’m not at liberty to discuss much of this situation, due to the ongoing investigation.

The oldest grand[d]aughter Indica has told us a different story than what has been said by Mark.(the father)

To me, there is no way in hell that Loic could have gotten in there by himself, and then closed the lid. Besides the time line involved…..one to two minutes before the search began, and no small tracks.

We live in a different state, so we did not get to see the news conference either. The info we are getting is from the rest of the family, and what we can read on the internet.

Ariel, and Amber are our nieces, and daughters. We got [guardianship] of them when they were eight, and five. We raised them! Loic was very much our grandson. So please don’t think I’m just another crack pot.

I want to thank all of the searchers, and others who have given so much!

I emphasized the part I found most interesting in “grandpa’s” post. Photos of the search for Loic in Kalispell showed that there was still plenty of snow on the ground. In-depth articles by the local papers indicated that the kids at the home where Loic disappeared and was then found were playing in the snow around the house, and this made any tracking of the boy’s tiny footprints difficult.

Still, would the kids have been playing right around the septic tank? Would they have played in that area enough to really disturb the snow? Septic tanks, as you’d might expect, have an odor. If they are well-made, it usually isn’t obvious until you’re right on top of the tank. Such an odor would be a kind of warning to even little kids that they might not want to play in that area.

Loic drowned in that tank. What was the last thing he saw? Was there a face he’d formerly trusted peering down through the manhole-sized cover, in that last instant before a deeper darkness fell?