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Just Science: Identification: Just the Molalla Forest Serial Killer

NCJ Number
Robert Thompson
Date Published
February 2019
2 pages

This fourth episode of the Identification season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Robert Thompson, Senior Forensic Science Research Manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who discusses his role in the investigation of the Molalla Forest serial killer. arguably the most infamous chain of homicides in Oregon (seven women victims in 3 months)


Dayton Leroy Rogers was convicted and imprisoned for these murders in 1985. Robert Thompson was involved in the investigation as a criminalist. Rogers became a suspect as a result of events that occurred when he stabbed his seventh victim, a prostitute, while sitting in his pickup truck in a public parking lot. Witnesses drawn by the woman's screams, obtained the license-plate number of the truck as Rogers left the scene. While Rogers case was being processed, a hunter in Molalla Forest discovered the remains of a body, and subsequent searches by investigators found five more decomposed bodies in the same area of the forest. Thompson discusses his investigative activities as a criminalist in this case. Multiple forensic disciplines were involved in the case. These included serology (blood from the knife used to kill the seventh victim and victims' blood stains found in the pickup truck); fabric and shoe analysis (matching victim clothing to burned remains of clothing in Roger's woodstove); tool marks (hacksaw marks on victim bones matched to Rogers' hacksaw); and analysis of victims' hair compared with hairs in Rogers' truck. Police interviewing techniques were involved in finding prostitute victims who survived attacks by Rogers.