Father of murdered Lubbock teen loses battle to cancer

Father of murder victim dies of cancer
Joe Bill Rogers (Source: Facebook)
Joe Bill Rogers (Source: Facebook)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We first met Joe Bill and Kathy Rogers when their 16-year-old daughter disappeared from their Lubbock home in 2004. For years, search parties spread out across the county looking for any sign of Joanna.

In 2006, Rosendo Rodriguez confessed to killing Joanna, putting her body in a suitcase and throwing it in a dumpster. It is the same way he said he killed Summer Baldwin.

Search teams dug through piles of garbage at the Lubbock landfill looking for the suitcase. After two months, they found it; Joanna's body was still inside.

The Rogers could finally bury their daughter, but the journey was far from over.

Rodriguez's execution was scheduled for March 27, 2018.

We sat down with Kathy and Joe Bill just days before Rodriguez's execution date where we learned the Rogers were facing another battle. In September 2016, doctors diagnosed Joe Bill with Merkel cell carcinoma.

Joe Bill said the rare cancer developed just a little more than a year after a successful lung transplant.

"I've been getting more mileage out of this old body than I thought I would. I've got a new set of lungs. The lung chemo-therapy gave me the Merkel cell, so I don't know what is next," Joe Bill told us in March.

At the time of that interview, Joe Bill had started chemotherapy and was not sure he would be strong enough to make the trip to Huntsville.

He told us he would be content with Rodriguez spending a lifetime behind bars, but he was not opposed to the death penalty.

"I kind of like the idea of outliving him," Joe Bill said.

On March 27, the Rogers' son, pushed Joe Bill's wheelchair into the Huntsville Unit.

We stood in the witness room behind Joe Bill as he watched his daughter's killer receive a lethal injection.

After returning home, the trips to the hospital continued.

He spent his 71st birthday in a hospital room surrounded by loved ones.

On Thursday, he returned home where he began hospice care with his wife by his side.

About 24 hours later, on June 15, Kathy said Joe Bill passed away peacefully.

A celebration of life will take place on Wednesday, June 20 at 2 p..m. at Shepherd King Lutheran Church.

Memorials are suggested to the South Plains Wildlife Rehab Center located at 3308 95th Street or to the church.

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