Faith Rogers should be in Seattle right now. Instead, her body was found on a popular trail in Juneau just days before the trip.
The 55-year-old Juneau woman was discovered near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as Brotherhood Bridge Trail, on Wednesday, Sept. 21, prompting a homicide investigation by the Juneau Police Department. She had intended to travel out of state this week to take her licensed clinical social worker exam.
Her family told the Empire they are shocked by the loss of their loved one.
“It was just like out of a British mystery show,” her father James Rogers said. “Police officers come in and announce that — it’s shocking.”
The family members said they know very little about the circumstances surrounding Rogers’ death, which police have described as suspicious and are investigating as a homicide, but remain hopeful answers will be found to their many lingering questions.
Juneau Police Department has been communicating well with all family members, and “are really kind,” said Harmony Wentz, Faith’s daughter.
As of Thursday, JPD had released few details about Faith’s death, including the cause of death, but announced earlier this week a preliminary investigation found she died last Wednesday while walking three dogs on the trail.
No suspects are in custody and no arrests have been made.
Her family told the Empire that her dogs are three teacup chihuahua siblings named Aggie, Gizmo and Gilly whom Faith loved dearly and are now being cared for by the family.
Family members said they were informed by police that the dogs’ leashes were found tied to a bench near the area where Faith’s body was found. Additionally, they said police found her vehicle at the Alaska Job Center Network across the street from Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei. JPD spokesperson Lt. Krag Campbell declined to comment on the information shared by the family.
Her family said it was unsurprising Faith visited either location. Faith was an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoyed hiking, camping and going on walks with her three dogs all over Juneau, so they said it was no surprise to learn she had gone for a walk in the area where her body was found.
Her family also said they knew she had made an appointment that day at the job center, as she was unemployed and was looking for job opportunities.
Faith had been employed in social work most of her life, earning her master’s degree in the field as she raised her three children and was a well-known and loved substance abuse counselor in Juneau during her time at Bartlett Regional Hospital, Harmony said. The Rogers family moved to Juneau in 1983, and Faith and the family lived in Juneau ever since.
“She was an advocate for her clients,” said Michelle Rogers, Faith’s younger sister. “She was really proud of all the people that she got to help.”
Her family said she had plans and ambitions ahead of her, and always worked to better herself to better help the people around her. They said her trip to Seattle was so that she could take her licensed clinical social worker exam, a career goal she was looking forward to achieving.
“She had so many plans,” Michelle said, tearing up. Michelle had just bought 20 acres of land and said Faith had already picked a spot where she wanted to build a house and grow old in. “We were going to retire and be old ladies together. She had all these grand plans, she had all these plans — she had a lot of plans.”
Faith’s family members said they don’t know why she was found dead and said they knew of no reason anyone would try to hurt her. They said she was small, just over five feet tall and less than 100 pounds, but was a black belt in karate.
For now, Michelle said the family is trying to take things day by day. James said the family plans to cremate her body, and lay her to rest at Saint Therese Columbarium. Her funeral is still being planned.
As the family sat in their living room with Faith’s dogs settled on their laps on Wednesday, a week after her death, they said she will be remembered for the love she had for people and for the life she lived.
“She was always positive, always came in and had a funny story to tell you,” Maria said.
They described an “artsy” and “outdoorsy” sister, daughter, mother and grandmother.
“She wanted to make things beautiful, to help make people beautiful — she helped a lot of people,” Michelle said.
As they wait and hope for more answers, the family said they know Faith would want them to see the good in life, and remain positive in this difficult time.
“She was the best mom in the world,” Harmony said. “She believed in goodness in a person — she believed everyone was good.”
She added: “She wouldn’t want us to hate, because that’s not the kind of person she was.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.