Nadine Rochelle Rogers, 33, resided at 243 Country Lane in Church Hill when she disappeared the evening of Feb. 2, 2002.
Her live-in 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.
Marler was 26 at the time and is currently 38. He was convicted in 2002 of an unrelated reckless homicide and aggravated robbery in Sullivan County and isn’t scheduled to be released from prison until August 2025.
But Marler remains only a “very strong person of interest” in Nadine Rogers’ disappearance.
Gregory Rogers, who lives in Knoxville, told the Times-News Tuesday he hasn’t given up on finding his sister.
“Eventually, somebody is going to find her remains, but I pray every day that if someone knows where she is, that they’ll tell us,” Rogers said. “Her three children were raised by her mother, Shirley Rogers, after Nadine disappeared, and Shirley died two years ago. And then last year their great-grandmother died.”
Rogers added, “Those kids have been able to lay their grandmother and their great-grandmother to rest, but their mother is still lost — and that’s not right.”
Retired Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Detective Allen Kidd stayed in regular contact with Shirley Rogers up until her death in 2012. Kidd also followed the progress of Nadine’s children and is proud that they’re all doing well as young adults.
But, the fact that the case remains unsolved still bothers him.
The day that Nadine disappeared, Marler took her car to Mobile, Ala.
He returned to his mother’s house in Bloomingdale about a week later. Police were waiting for him there on the Sullivan County charges.
Marler claimed that on Feb. 2, 2002, Nadine left with a group of men from North Carolina, but no one has ever been able to prove that group of men ever existed.
What investigators do know is Nadine cashed a large income tax refund check the day she disappeared, and Marler had demanded part of it.
Kidd said Nadine had hidden the money in her home, and after her disappearance police found the money. Kidd says he believes the money was the motive.
“She was a vibrant young woman working hard to support her three children,” Kidd said. “Then Marler started staying with her, and the next thing you know she has disappeared, and her children are left for their grandmother to raise. I think about it all the time, especially every time I go by (Kingsport’s) Cheddar’s where she worked.”
Kidd added, “We feel like we know who did it, but we’ve just never been able to develop enough to charge. I’ve had (investigators) from Alabama to Tennessee to help, and nothing has turned up at all. I charged him with stealing the car, but I couldn’t get any farther in court because there isn’t anybody to say she didn’t give it to him.”
Nadine’s three children are currently ages 25, 21, and 20. Gregory Rogers said they coped with the tragedy better than most children would have.
“Not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her, because I pray for my nieces and nephews every day,” Rogers said.
“Nadine was from a very strong background and a strong family, and the kids were raised to be strong. They’re very strong and very close to each other, and they were taught to survive.”
Rogers added, “While praying for them I think about her, hoping that someday someone might find her remains. I pray for him (Marler) that he might find it in his heart to tell us what happened. I pray that if he told anyone what he did with her, that they’ll come forward. I pray that we can put her to rest, and her children will have some sort of closure to this ordeal. That’s what I pray for every day.”
At this point Kidd believes for the case to be solved someone will either have to find the remains, or Marler will have to “step up and admit it.”
“She could be anywhere between here and Mobile,” Kidd said. “When he left he was driving her burgundy colored four-door Oldsmobile sedan. It was very disheartening, because everywhere we went we ran into walls, but we kept trying to knock a hole in them to get through, to find something. It still bothers me today that we weren’t able to get closure.”
Anyone with information on Nadine Rogers’ whereabouts is asked to contact the HCSO at (423) 272-4848.