Slain Aiken officer remembered as protector


AIKEN — Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers was a protector.


“Everybody knew that those who worked with her went home,” said fellow Officer Sandy NeSmith.

Rogers was never off the clock and always looked out for her own. She worked for the department for 27 years and took calls from co-workers anytime, day or night.

“She would stay late,” NeSmith said. “Everybody on my shift went to her for answers.”

Rogers’ biggest concern was getting all of her co-workers home to their families.

“It’s a little ironic,” said NeSmith. “But she always preached that everyone goes home at the end of their shift, every night.”

Rogers was shot Saturday while she was checking on a suspicious vehicle. She was taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers, where she later died from her injuries.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division arrested Joshua Tremaine Jones, 26, in connection with the slaying. Jones has also been charged in the shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend, Cayce Vice, earlier Saturday in Augusta. He is being held at the Aiken County Detention Center.

Rogers had police work in her blood. Her grandfather James M. Sprawls was an Aiken police chief, according to her obituary. She received the Distinguished Service award and the Lifesaving Award in 2003 and a certificate of commendation in 2011.

She and Capt. Ray Scott joined the force at the same time. For almost 30 years, they have risen up the ranks together. Scott, who is now in charge of investigations, said Rogers worked with him for a year but then moved back to road patrol because she missed the action.

“She loved the streets,” Scott said.

He said that throughout their long history, Rogers was always a compassionate officer who cared deeply about the department.

“I thought the world of Sandy. I will truly miss her,” he said.

Penny Stanford, who knew Rogers for 27 years, said Rogers had arrested a young man Friday. The man approached Stanford at a prayer vigil Sunday evening in Eustis Park.

The young man had planned to call Rogers on Monday and thank her for changing his life. He said she had convinced him to take his life in a different direction and stay out of trouble.

“That’s the kind of officer she was,” Stanford said. “What a difference she made in just the few minutes she spent with him.”

Rogers was a lifelong Aiken resident. Kim Anderson Ray, a lawyer, went to Aiken High School with Rogers and said Rogers’ family is well-respected in the community.

“We have suffered a terrible loss,” she said. “I was literally shaking.”

Aiken was very close to Rogers’ heart. She was a mentor for troubled individuals, her obituary says. She also helped start, along with her mother and sister, the Book Bag Program for Helping Hands. Helping Hands is a residential shelter in Aiken for children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.

“She was a sweet lady,” Scott said.

Rogers’ family and friends gathered at the vigil to share stories about her and remember the friend and public servant. They said she spent the little time she was not patrolling the streets on her boat. She liked to relax at Lake Murray with family and friends.

“You know what I will miss most about her?” Stanford said. “Her smile and her laugh.”


The man accused of shooting and killing Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers will appear in court today.

Joshua Tremaine Jones will go in front of the bond judge as a formality, Aiken Lt. David Turno said. A magistrate judge cannot set bond on a murder charge, so he will be sent to a circuit court later.

Around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Rogers was dispatched to Eustis Park to check on a suspicious vehicle. Shortly after, she was shot and taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers, where she later died.

Officers immediately put out a “be on the lookout” alert for a blue BMW that was seen leaving the scene. Jones’ father, James Jones, said he had reported the car missing the night before when his son took it and did not return.

While the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was searching for Jones, deputies in Richmond County discovered the body of his 21-year-old girlfriend, Cayce Vice, in her apart­ment on Washington Road. At 5 weeks pregnant with Jones child, she was shot in the head while in bed.

Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen said Vice had been shot “at least a few hours” before officers found her.

Jones was arrested without incident at 11:35 a.m. on Youman Street in Bates­burg, S.C., about 30 miles from Aiken.

His father told reporters at the Aiken Public Safety news conference Saturday evening that his son had been “going through a lot of mental issues.” The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said Jones will be charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend.


Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers’ funeral will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center, according to the officer’s obituary. The Rev. Dr. George K. Howle, of St. John’s United Methodist Church, will officiate.

Burial with honors will follow in Aiken’s Historic Bethany Cemetery.

Pallbearers will be her shift co-workers, Teddy Umsted, Mat Braxton, Karl Odenthal, Billy Cameron, Jason Fogle, Carlos Colindres, Jacob Pridgen, Timothy Hawkes, Brenton Russo and Brandon Bethman. Honorary pallbearers will be Aiken Public Safety employees Ryan Sparling and Howard Venning Morrison, and nationwide law enforcement officers.

Memorials may be directed to St. John’s United Methodist Church, 104 Newberry St. NW.; and USC Aiken Lucile and Maldon Sprawls Nursing Scholarship Fund, 471 University Parkway, both in Aiken.

The family will also receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Shellhouse Funeral Home, 924 Hayne Ave. in Aiken.



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