Mourners celebrate life of Jim Rogers

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 25, 2002


LAPLACE – More than 300 family and friends of LaPlace teen-ager James Lester “Jim” Rogers paid their respects at a soul-stirring memorial service Thursday at First United Methodist Church.

There, the Rev. Ken Graham instructed: “God didn’t do this. God doesn’t take life, He gives life. Let’s put the blame where it belongs – on the Evil One.”

Rogers, 17, the son of LaPlace veterinarian Dr. Wayne Rogers, was reported missing by his father when his son failed to return home Mardi Gras night, as expected.

However, after nearly three days of searching, his body was found beneath an Interstate 310 access ramp near St. Rose. Six arrests have been made in connection with the crime, according to St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg C. Champagne.

Since the initial arrests, 29th Judicial District Judge Emile St. Pierre issued a gag order on police, prosecutors and family members from speaking to the media about the case.

At the service, family members addressed the mourners, sharing memories and recalling happy times.

Betty Rogers, Jim’s aunt, commented, “I love to laugh, and the one thing Jim could do was make me laugh.”

She added, “with his birth, a fullness came to our family,” and continued, “I know Jim was living fully to the last moment of his life.”

She concluded that anger “made his killers so blind, they could not see the loving, open-hearted person he had been.”

As mourners entered the spacious church, a long line extended along the walls and passed display tables filled with photographs of Jim Rogers’ life.

The photographs included such scenes as a toddler Jim at Carnival parades, as a baby sitting in a plastic bathtub and riding a four-wheeler. At the front, his mother, Sharon, and sister, Lucy, joined Dr. Rogers in greeting their son’s friends and loved ones. Of the 300-plus in attendance, at least one-third were teen-agers, most with red-rimmed eyes, both male and female.

An uncle, David Rogers, remembered the young boy who had been a ring-bearer at his wedding and a fishing trip when Jim was 10 years old.

He concluded, “Wherever he is, LSU always beats Florida and the Saints always win the Super Bowl.”

His eldest cousin, Charlotte Holmes, remembered Jim happily gave up a prom night to be with his family on the occasion of his grandmother’s 80th birthday.

Finally, Jim’s father, briefly addressed the assembly and affirmed, “Hate was not a part of Jim’s personality.”

In a prepared message to mourners, Jim’s family commented: “It will never make any sense to us why his life was taken. We can only find comfort in knowing that he is in a wonderful place. God knows how special our son was and He has a special place for him now.”

A poem composed by the family also recalled Jim Rogers, including lines such as the following:

“Jim loved his mom and treasured each pet.

They had special care, ’cause his dad was a vet.

Jim cared about his sister with all his heart.

Their bond remains strong although they’re apart.

Grandma Karm cherished her grandson.

Sneaking her candy was always fun.

Jim really enjoyed teasing Grandma Kay.

She couldn’t resist smile from what he would say.”

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Wayne L. Jones, a family friend, called the murder “a senseless crime” during a Feb. 9 press conference.

Those arrested include:

• Calvin Couvillion, 21, of Old Spanish Trail, between Mozella and Paradis.

• Brandon Stein, 18, of 140 E. 12th St., Reserve.

• Tracy Caillett, 18, of 916 Gassen St., Luling.

• Terrel J. Gisclair, 17, 14882 Old Spanish Trail, Paradis.

• A 15-year-old Des Allemands female.

• A 16-year-old LaPlace male.

Couvillion and Stein have each been charged with second-degree murder. Caillett and Gisclair were each charged with being an accessory after the fact.

An autopsy report is awaited from St. Charles Parish Coroner Dr. David Vial to tell investigators the exact cause of death.

The victim’s body was released to the family.