Family mourns missing Liberty runner Chad Rogers as police seek to ID body

07/26/2013 10:20 AM

07/27/2013 8:03 PM

As Liberty police worked to confirm whether a body found Friday in a portable toilet near a construction site is that of missing runner Chad Rogers, the man’s family accepted the fact that he had died.

“Our family is heartbroken at the loss of our son, husband and father,” his dad, Greg Rogers, read from a written statement late Friday afternoon in a short meeting with media outside his church. “We love Chad and will always love him. Even though our hearts are sad, we know he is with our Father in heaven.”

Greg Rogers apologized for reading the statement but said, as he briefly choked up, that a written statement was the only way he would be able to talk about the unhappy ending to a search launched after Chad, 30, failed to return home from a Monday evening run. Hundreds in the community, including many strangers, rallied around the family as the search stretched from Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday and into Friday.

“We know how loved we are when this community wraps its arms around us like this one did,” Greg Rogers said. “Thank you for all of the love and support that has been shown.”

A construction worker discovered the body about 11 a.m. near where the Flintlock Flyover overpass is being built above Interstate 35 in southern Liberty, near South Valley Junior High School. The site is about 2 miles from where searchers spent days trudging through high grass, weeds and woods looking for signs of Rogers. Search dogs had tracked him to that area.

Police released few details about the discovery and declined to take reporters’ questions at an afternoon press briefing.

They did not know a cause of death or how long the body had been there, Sgt. Bob Kumpost said. The Jackson County medical examiner’s office will work to determine identity and cause of death, Kumpost said.

“We realize this has been a difficult time for the community,” Kumpost said. “We appreciate the outpouring of support and your patience as we continue our investigation.”

One resident who lives nearby said he was shocked because he didn’t notice anything unusual when he and others played soccer and disc golf this week near where the body was discovered.

Rogers, a marathon runner and stay-at-home father, had not been seen since he left home about 8:30 p.m. Monday to go for a run.

Authorities told the Rogers family Friday that that they “tentatively” had located the body, a family friend told The Star.

Tim Fritson, a youth pastor who helped coordinate volunteer searchers, said he was with the family when police gave them the news.

“We were hoping they would find him alive,” Fritson said.

Just before 1 p.m. Friday, Fritson posted this note on a Facebook page dedicated to the search for Rogers:

“Friends, it is with a very heavy heart that I communicate that the Liberty Police Department has tentatively located the body of Chad Rogers. The search has been called off. Please give the family space over the next few days as they process through the difficulty of this time. Thank you for your search efforts over the last 4 days. You’ve been very helpful throughout the process.”

Organizers on Friday afternoon canceled a prayer vigil that had been planned for Friday night.

Throughout the week, Greg Rogers said he and his family relied on their faith.

“At one point I asked for the eyes of God (to help find his son),” Rogers said. “I am thankful we got them and we can now send him (Chad) home.”

Donations to a trust fund for Rogers’ son are being accepted at U.S. Bank, 1909 W. Kansas St., Liberty, MO 64068.

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