Middle child Anthony Rogers, 28, told the Times News this past week it’s always a little harder on Feb. 2. That’s the last day his mom was heard from.
“We just stay positive and think about the good times, the happy times with her,” Anthony said. “She was a single mom supporting her three kids and she worked hard. She always made sure we were fed and taken care of. She was a loving woman and she never would have left her kids. She loved her kids and she was a devoted mother.”
What happened to Nadine?
Nadine Rochelle Rogers, 33, resided at 243 Country Lane in Church Hill when she disappeared the evening of Feb. 2, 2002.
Her boyfriend at the time, Robert Wayne Marler, was suspected of killing Rogers and hiding her body after she refused to give him her income tax refund.
Two days later, Nadine’s mother, Shirley, told the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office that Nadine and Marler had gone to a friend’s house in Kingsport a couple of days earlier to drop off her children. Nadine was scheduled to report for work at Cheddar’s in Kingsport on Feb. 2 but did not show up.
The day Nadine disappeared, Marler took her car to Mobile, Ala.
He returned to his mother’s house in Bloomingdale about a week later, and police were waiting to arrest him on the Sullivan County homicide and robbery charges.
Marler claimed that on Feb. 2, Nadine left with a group of men from North Carolina, but no one has ever been able to prove those men ever existed.
What investigators do know is that Nadine cashed a large income tax refund check the day she disappeared, and Marler had demanded part of it.
However, she hid the money in her home, and after her disappearance police found it. Police believe the money was the motive, and although Marler was questioned extensively, there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges.
What is Marler’s current status?
Marler was 26 at the time of Nadine’s disappearance and is now 42.
He was sentenced to 22 years without parole in 2002 for an unrelated reckless homicide and especially aggravated robbery in Sullivan County.
Marler is incarcerated in the Turney Center Industrial Complex in Only, Tenn., where he is scheduled for release in October of 2023.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson told the Times News earlier this week that Marler remains a “very strong person of interest” in Nadine’s disappearance, but leads have long since been exhausted.
What do the children remember?
“We lived in Church Hill at the time, and that’s when she was dating Bobby Wayne Marler,” Anthony said. “I’ll never forget his name. Momma said, ‘Y’all want to go to Christie’s and spend the night?’ Christie was a friend of hers and she babysat us. Me, Marcus and Neisha went to her house on Friday (Feb. 1) and stayed two nights, and Sunday we went to Grandma’s, but she (Nadine) never came and got us.
“The next day, we were still at Grandma’s and it was Monday, and she never came and got us. That was when they filed the missing report because it had been 24 hours. I remember my uncle coming up from Knoxville. They were posting her picture all over Kingsport, all over the soda machines, on the poles. We were on the news and Grandma was on TV crying. She (Nadine) was with him (Marler) and she never came back. That’s when we knew something was wrong, because that was not like her.”
What would Anthony like to say to Marler?
“If I could say anything to Robert Marler, I would tell him I don’t know why you did this or why you’re being a coward to admit what you done, but we’ve had to deal with this since we were teenagers. There’s no closure. You know what you done. Your story is nothing but a lie. If it’s up to me I would talk to the parole board not to let you out because you don’t deserve to be out. You caused my family a lot of pain and anger. I know God says we’ve got to forgive people, but it’s hard. You took somebody who was very close to me, who wasn’t there for my graduation, or my sister’s, or my brother’s.”
Brother still has hope Nadine will be found
Gregory Rogers has carried his sister Nadine’s baby picture in his wallet for 49 years.
Gregory, who lives in Knoxville, hasn’t given up hope that someday someone will come forward with information that sheds light on what happened to Nadine.
“Every morning I wake up, I pray, and at nighttime I pray,” Gregory said. “I pray for him. I pray for Robert Marler, that he will just tell us where she’s at — what he did with her. I think about her, and I’ll think, ‘God, make him tell it.’ ”
Gregory said he’ll never stop trying to find out what happened.
“Sometimes stories like this jar people’s minds. Maybe they remember something they never thought of before. Maybe somebody saw something or heard something and they were afraid to say anything before, but their situation has changed now. Maybe if they know how much this still means to Nadine’s family they might come forward.”
How are the children doing today?
Today Marcus is 30, Anthony is 28 and Neisha is 27, and all three of Nadine’s children live in Kingsport.
Neisha graduated nursing school three years ago and is a certified LPN.
Anthony works in a factory in Morristown and is a candidate to become a deacon in his church.
Marcus is currently recovering from a life-threatening injury he suffered in 2017.
Last year was an especially difficult one. Aside from Marcus being injured, their father passed away the day before Thanksgiving.
After their mom’s death, the siblings were raised by their beloved grandmother Shirey, but she passed away in 2010, and they all still heavily mourn that loss as well.
“We were raised up right, so we weren’t the type of kids who were going to stray away. Our grandma always told us the truth and taught us right from wrong, and we chose not to let what happened to our mother ruin our lives or send us down the wrong path,” Anthony said.
Lawson believes for the case to be solved someone will have to find Nadine’s remains, or a witness will come forward or Marler will have to confess.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the HCSO at (423) 272-4848.
“You can tell it still really bothers them (Neisha, Anthony and Marcus), but at the same time they get through the day,” Gregory said. “We talk about her. But I try to keep them focused on — one day he’s either going to tell it, or they’re going to find something to connect him with her death. He’s been connected to her going missing, but he’s not been connected to her death.”