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Before her body was dumped in a lake, Texas woman made porn with her killer and his wife, authorities say

Jeffrey Kenneth Rogers, 60, faces a murder charge in the death of 41-year-old Traci Leigh Jones.

When authorities announced the arrest last month of a Fort Worth man who is accused of dumping a woman’s body in a lake several states away, they didn’t say how the two had known each other.

Jeffrey Kenneth Rogers
Jeffrey Kenneth Rogers(Tarrant County Sheriff's Department)

An affidavit released this week by the district attorney in Erath County, where the woman had been living, accuses Jeffrey Kenneth Rogers of murdering Traci Leigh Jones and reveals details about their connection.

Rogers, 60, was arrested at a Fort Worth mobile-home park June 23, three days after authorities found Jones’ body in a lake that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

Authorities say that the two — along with Rogers’ wife, a former elementary school principal in Arlington ISD — had been filming pornography together and that Jones had threatened to expose the situation after the romantic relationship among the three of them deteriorated.

Rogers’ attorney declined to comment about the allegations against her client. His wife, Tammy Rogers, has not been charged with any crimes.

Jones’ body was found in a 50-gallon black plastic container that had been zip-tied shut through holes drilled in its red lid. Officials believe it had floated north across the state line after it was dumped in Tennessee.

A medical examiner in Kentucky ruled that Jones’ death was a homicide, and Rogers was charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Ongoing dispute

Texas Ranger Danny Briley wrote in an affidavit that Kentucky and Tennessee authorities reached out to the Rangers for help with the investigation the day before Rogers’ arrest.

Soon after, Briley spoke to a Stephenville attorney who said Jones had been his client. She had contacted him in late April because of an ongoing dispute with Jeffrey Rogers and his wife, the lawyer said.

The trio had been involved in producing pornography, Jones told the lawyer, and she had reached out to a local TV station and Arlington ISD after their relationship had turned sour, according to the affidavit.

Jones was afraid the couple might harm her to prevent her from revealing sensitive information about them, the lawyer said.

Jones had lived at the couple’s home in Arlington until they sold it last fall, then stayed with them in their RV, the affidavit says.

More recently, she had moved in with a friend in Dublin, the Erath County town where she grew up.

That friend told Briley that Jones had spoken multiple times about making pornography with the Rogerses, saying she was paid through Venmo, the affidavit says. She told him that she had last seen Jones walking from her home the evening of June 16 and that she believed Jeffrey Rogers had picked her up along the road.

Wife’s interview

Briley interviewed Tammy Rogers after her husband was arrested on June 23.

Rogers, 60, confirmed that Jones had been paid to have sex with the couple as part of her husband’s pornography business but that the three-person relationship had ended, according to the affidavit.

Her husband continued having sex with Jones and paying her “more and more money,” the affidavit says, and she told the Ranger she was upset about it.

She said that she’d lost her job as principal of Berry Elementary School in late May after Jones revealed the pornography business and that Jones continued to threaten to expose the story to the media.

An Arlington ISD spokeswoman said Tuesday that Rogers resigned in May after working in the district since 1989. She began working at Berry in the 2016-17 school year, according to AISD documents posted online, and before that was the longtime principal of the district’s Johns Elementary School.

Tammy Rogers told Briley that on the evening of June 16 her husband said he was going to Dublin to meet with Jones and pay her. She “did not know how much Jones would be paid, but was sure Jeffrey would probably have sex with Jones,” the affidavit says.

He didn’t respond to her text messages, according to the affidavit, and returned the next morning to the couple’s RV, where Tammy Rogers had stayed up all night. He then loaded items into his pickup truck and the couple began the 650-mile drive to southwestern Kentucky, where Tammy Rogers’ father was recovering from heart surgery.

Tammy Rogers said that she knew there was a cooler with drinks in the back of the pickup but that she never looked back there, the affidavit says.

She told authorities that she and her husband stayed at her father’s home the night of June 17 and that Jeffrey Rogers left for several hours the next morning. When authorities searched the home later, they seized drill bits and reported finding pieces of plastic that matched the container’s lid.

Trail of evidence

Jeffrey Rogers’ movements before and after Jones’ death were captured on surveillance footage a number of times, Briley wrote in the affidavit.

Authorities said surveillance footage captured Jeffrey Rogers as he drove from North Texas to Kentucky.
Authorities said surveillance footage captured Jeffrey Rogers as he drove from North Texas to Kentucky.(Tennessee Bureau of Investigations)

The morning of June 15, he was seen going to a hardware store in Burleson and walking out with a plastic container identical to the one Jones’ body was found in.

From 8:45 p.m. June 16 to just after 4 a.m. the next morning, he and Jones were together in Stephenville, the affidavit says. They left a Holiday Inn about 4:10 a.m., and Jones was wearing the same clothes her body was found in, surveillance footage showed.

Two hours later, Rogers’ pickup was spotted in Burleson, with a large plastic container in the back. He opened the camper top’s hatch three times and touched the container, the affidavit says.

At 10 a.m. that day, he and his wife were in the pickup in Royse City. Jeffrey Rogers was the only one to access the back of the pickup, authorities said.

He arrived at a marina in Buchanan, Tenn., on the western shore of Kentucky Lake, about 8:45 a.m. June 18 and rented a boat, surveillance footage showed. At 9:33 a.m., he loaded a container covered with a blanket onto his boat, and he left 19 minutes later.

‘I own it'

Last Wednesday, a pair of Texas Rangers visited Rogers at the Tarrant County jail after he asked to speak with them.

In the interview, which the affidavit says was recorded, Rogers said he became “scared” of Jones and strangled her after leaving the hotel the morning of June 16.

He said dumping her body in a lake hundreds of miles away was “dishonorable,” the affidavit says, and told them he would give up more details about Jones’ death if the charges against him in Tennessee were dropped. The district attorney’s office in Henry County, Tenn., did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday about whether it was still pursuing those charges.

“I have the pieces to the puzzle you need,” he reportedly said, adding that he had sent Jones text messages after her death in an attempt to throw investigators off his trail.

Rogers told them about the pornography business and the crumbling relationship among the trio, but he said he continued to pay Jones and “negotiate the terms of their relationship” until her death, Briley wrote.

He also said that he alone was to blame for the slaying, the affidavit says, telling the lawmen: “I own it, and Tammy had nothing to do with it.”

Jeffrey Rogers remained in custody on Wednesday without bail. Efforts to reach Tammy Rogers were unsuccessful.

Tom Steele, Breaking News Producer. Tom has covered breaking news for The Dallas Morning News since 2016. He has worked in a number of other capacities for The News since 2007, and he was previously a copy editor at The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla. He has degrees in journalism and economics from Lehigh University.

tsteele@dallasnews.com tomsteele
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