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Like no one's watching

In this world some people strive to achieve everything they want. Resilient individuals have shown exceptional perseverance and determination in the face of significant challenges. These people have a strong sense of purpose or passion that drives their determination, while others may have developed resilience and perseverance through overcoming the unfortunate cards they've been dealt. This story tells a tale of two women, one missing and one seeking the truth, at any cost. The ultimate tale of resilience. What happened to one on a cold, snowy January night over four decades ago.


Lonene Rogers

First, I would like to thank Alison for speaking with me about her mother's case. Recalling all the trauma that occurred after Lonnie's disappearance was heartbreaking. Alison made it clear she will not give up until answers are uncovered.

Lonene Rogers was born on October 18, 1951, in Ohio to her parents Maxine and Ray. Lonene was one of three children, all girls. Affectionately called Lonnie, she was the oldest to little sister’s Glene and Mya. When Lonene was around two or three years of age her grandmother grew concerned as Lonene did not react when she was spoken to. Raising concern to her parents they took her to a doctor and were told Lonene had a profound hearing problem. She was born that way. Maxine and Ray were determined to not let Lonene’s disability be a factor in her life ever. They were urged to have Lonnie's institutionalized. Which her parents quickly shut down. When Lonnie was of school age they did not want to be put into a school for special needs. They did not want her to be singled out because of it. It might have been the way she was raised, or it may have been a fire of determination burning inside her, Lonnie would not be judged by her disability. She would do anything and everything that anyone else could, in fact more than anyone else thought she could. Lonnie achieved everything she ever wanted. Throughout Lonnie’s childhood and adulthood, she loved to dance. Although she could not hear, she said, she could feel the music, the vibrations. It lit her soul like nothing else. She carried this love with her for the rest of her days.


In 1970 the family packed up to move to Meadville, Pennsylvania. This move was to be close to Lonnie's grandparents. Lonnie stayed behind, in Ohio, living with her grandmother in Youngstown to finish school. After graduation she moved to be with the rest of her family. Lonnie was employed at a factory and strived to be the fastest employee to complete tasks. Lonnie always wanted to be an overachiever.


When Lonnie was in her twenties, she met a man, Clinton Rogers. Whom everyone called, Bud. Bud was also deaf. They were introduced to each other at the Erie Silent Club in Erie Pennsylvania. The two would quickly become an item. Within a year Lonnie and Bud married. The couple had two children, Alison and Aaron. They lived in a few places before ultimately moving into a second-floor duplex in Hayfield Township Pennsylvania. The area is known as Little Corners. This was an exciting move as Lonnie’s parents and grandparents lived in the same little area across the way. If they ever needed anything there was always help within walking distance. By fall of 1980, Lonnie and Bud separated. This was due to Bud's ongoing criminal activity. Bud was caught numerous times for theft. Bud moved into his parents' home approximately 40 minutes away. At the end of 1980 with the holidays quickly approaching, Lonnie allowed Bud to stay in the home for the children. After the holidays passed Bud refused to leave.


Lonnie, Aaron, Alison, Bud

On the night of January 7, 1981, Lonnie and Bud argued. This was sparked due to Bud not wanting to leave the home, as they agreed upon before. In the early morning hours, Bud woke up and realized Lonnie was not in the house at all. She left behind her hearing aid, eyeglasses, medication, car, and other personal items. Bud woke up the children and brought them to the babysitter who lived about 15 minutes away. The snowstorm that evening was fierce, it could have taken longer than normal to drive to the destination. Aside from the concerning 3AM visit, the babysitter noted Bud appeared to be sweaty and anxious. He told her Lonnie had left him for another man and he had to go find her. After the drop off, Bud's movements for approximately four hours remain unknown. Promptly at 7AM that morning, Bud arrived at his work shift. It is confirmed he arrived on time and never left until the end of his shift. During his shift the babysitter had her daughter call Lonnie’s father to see what was going on and if he knew about what took place that morning. Ray was in disbelief, he headed just the short distance to Lonnie duplex. Ray knocked and knocked but there was no answer. In a moment of panic of the unknown he broke down the front door to the home. Inside he found an immaculate clean house. There was no evidence of a struggle or physical fight. Ray called 911 and just after the officers arrived Bud also arrived back home. Bud was angry Ray kicked the front door down and had called police. A fight broke out and during this Ray discovered, Bud had 60 dollars on him. This was significant because Lonnie asked her father for money the night prior. When confronted with this, Bud told Ray "Lonnie had given him the money to pay a bill." Police brought Bud down to the police station for questioning. When the interview started officers immediately could not understand what Bud was attempting to communicate to them. Because of this barrier they called off the interview and Bud walked out of the station. Since, Bud has been questioned but nothing comes from these interviews, as there is still no one to interpret.


Lonnie & Bud

Life continued without Lonnie. The children Alison and Aaron were shuffled around between family members’ homes. Until one day when Alison was 14 years old her father left her and never looked back. It was Aaron’s birthday and Bud told Alison she had to ride in the bed of his truck. It was cold and Alison grew upset, because of his she was making noise while stomping and yelling to be let inside the truck. Bud would stop but it was at a police station. Bud went in and shortly emerged back out, grabbing Alison, he told her she needed to tell the officer she was bad, and he wasn’t taking her back home with him. The officer tried to tell Bud he couldn’t just drop off his daughter off at the station, it’s not how things work. Bud did not care; he was determined to leave without Alison. Ultimately, he left Alison there and that was the last time Alison saw her father. As fate would have it, earlier that day at school Alison’s guidance counselor gave her a piece of paper with her phone number written on it and told her if she ever needed anything to give her a call. Hours later when police were asking Alison if she knew anyone that she could stay with. While being asked this she reached in her pocket and felt the piece of paper, pulling it out she handed it to the officer jokingly “you could call her.” That moment would start the rest of Alison’s life.

In recent years Alison has taken her mother’s missing case and dusted it off. This story, the disappearance of Lonnie Rogers, was a story that was hers to tell. It took a great deal of strength to pull through the negative memories of the past. Once she started digging, she couldn’t stop and hasn’t since. Alison has been the face of her mother’s case; she is determined to seek the truth about what happened that fateful night all those decades ago. Alison has written a book on her experience and has shared this tragic life with the world. Alison has never spoken to Bud since the night he abandoned her at the police station, she has nothing to say to him. She believes the truth about the fate of her mother lies within Bud and the deaf community.


Alison's book "A Daughter's Journey."


Cold Case Symposium at Perdue University. Alison along with Tates and Shayna from Light The Way adovacy.

What happened to Lonene “Lonnie” Rogers on January 7, 1981? She worked her shift, picked up her children from the babysitter. At some point she did ask her father for money according to the story told it was to leave Bud. Her father only had $60 on him and gave it to her. Regardless of why she asked for the money, Bud claimed she gave it to him when caught with the same denomination. Either way Lonnie wanted Bud out of the home, he was supposed to be gone after the holidays, but he refused to leave. That night the couple argued and at one point Bud went to sleep. When he woke, sometime around 3AM he claimed she was not in the home. Assuming she left on foot because her keys and her mustang were still at home. He woke the children and loaded them in his Bronco to take them to the babysitter’s home. He told the babysitter that Lonene left, and he had to go look for her. What he did during that time remains unknown to this day. At 7AM he arrived at work and was there for his entire shift. Wherever Lonnie is today we hope she is still dancing like no one’s watching.



Through A Sister Eyes…


I had the pleasure of speaking with Lonnie’s sister, Glene. She painted a picture of Lonene so vividly. Many times, and many memories she holds dear to her heart. Lonnie never let anything stop her, Glene recalled, she was very head strong and determined. Growing up in Youngstown Ohio. Lonnie was very bright and walked and even ran at nine months old. Since Lonnie was hearing impaired the two had different ways of communication, unlike your typical sibling fights, they would stomp on the floors more times than not. Lonnie was very sensitive to vibrations, and this would always catch her attention. The sisters even had “their own sign language”. Lonnie was very lively and had many friends, interestingly most of her friends were not of the “deaf group”.


Alison and Glene

A memory that has always stayed with Glene, Glene was approximately eight to ten years old, and they were visiting their grandparents. They had vast fields and Lonnie and Glene laid down. They communicated back and forth as the sun illuminated their faces. Suddenly Lonnie asked, “How can you stand it isn’t the sun so loud?” Glene thought it was hilarious. “No!”, she replied. Lonnie always assumed when the sun was at it brightest, it made a sound and the brighter the sun was the louder it was. This simple conversation is something that always stuck with her.


Even though their age gap was significant, the two spent a lot of time together. They would go to the movies, roller skated together. They danced together and the girls loved The Beatles. Lonnie loved Paul McCartney, “I liked Ringo, no one liked Ringo”. One memory that stood out to Glene and even made her chuckle was when they went to the public swimming pool together. Lonnie did not want to bring her little sister along that day. Lonnie was in her teens and wanted to hang out with her friends and maybe flirt with some boys. The walk there Lonnie and her friends left Glene trailing behind them. Glene, who wanted attention from her sister, and the older girls thought of an idea when they arrived. She told Lonnie “I am going to go on the high dive, and she said no you’re not allowed”. Glene did it anyways, maybe hoping to impress the girls that she was too a cool girl. When Glene reached the top, she realized that she no longer wanted to impress and was indeed frightened, she started to cry. Standing at the top she could not get down due to the line of children behind her. This made a scene. Lonnie kept Glene to just jump but she couldn’t do it. Shortly, Lonnie was climbing the steps, pushing everyone out of the way. She grabbed Glene and went back down the diving stairs they went. “It must have been extremely embarrassing for her.” Glene laughed recalling this.


There was a time Glene beat someone up for Lonnie. They were playing with a group of friends and one of Glene’s friends “was making fun of Lonnie”. Without hesitation Glene and the girl were in a physical fight. When the fight was over the girls headed home and Lonnie was very upset. Lonnie told their mother that Glene had just got into a fight with someone. Their mother reprimanded Glene. There was a big misunderstanding it seemed. Glene asked Lonnie “why would you tell Mom, I just did that because of you, the girl was making fun of you!”. It was a funny moment she said.


One memory while recalling how much Lonnie disliked not being treated equally to her peers. Once, while in school the students were planning for a trip to a concert. Upsettingly the hearing-impaired group were not included in such trip.  When Lonnie caught wind of this, she was eager to raise funds for the hearing-impaired group to also attend, and she did. The group held a local car wash and raised the funds to also be able to attend the concert. They succeeded because Lonnie stood up for them and, being left out because of their disability, would not fly with her. During high school she dated a “really nice guy” named Bill. They were very good together and mirrored each other. They had the same outgoingness and personality. Bill had a nice family; they had a boat they would take on the lake and Lonnie used to water ski. Unfortunately, Bill dumped Lonnie for her best friend. Glene does not know how she looked past this breakup. She did though because Bill and Lonnie’s friend eventually were getting married, and Lonnie was a maid of honor.



Glene recalls, When Lonnie met Bud, it seemed good. He was quiet but seemed like he wanted to fit into the family. Maxine was not fond of Bud; he rubbed her the wrong way. She remembers Lonnie crying while doing the dishes. She wanted to marry Bud and start a family, but she wanted their mother to except Bud. Lonnie was going to do what she wanted though, regardless. When they moved into the duplex across the street from them Glene was excited. She never thought this address would be the last place her sister would be seen. When she disappeared, everything happened so quickly. Everyone was just waiting for her to come back. She never did. It is hard for Glene to believe that Bud caused harm to her sister. Many things are very suspicious, timelines, all of her things left behind, missing pink blanket was the only thing missing. Thinking back Bud did have problems, legal trouble. He was arrested many times for theft or things of that nature. There was a time or two that Bud lost his temper but there were so many times he was good. She believes Lonnie would have told her if Bud was abusing her in any way. The reality of it is though that four decades have passed without any sign of her sister, Glene knows Lonnie would have not walked away from her life and stay gone forever. She stated Bud must have done something to her. “There’s no other explanation.”


She holds out hope that one day everything will come full circle and she will no longer be a sister of a missing person.


“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”


If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Lonnie Rogers, you are encouraged to contact the Pennsylvania State Police. 814-332-6911


Alison's book can be found at many locations.


Join and follow the Facebook page set up for Lonnie:





 

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