Friday, August 3, 2012

The Cross-Country Killer

Was O.J. Innocent?


Nicole Brown Simpson
Nicole Brown Simpson
It was a horrendous double murder at 875 Bundy Drive, and the culprit seemed obvious. On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson, former wife of former football celebrity O. J. Simpson, was stabbed to death by an assailant on the front walk of her luxury condo. The killer also slaughtered Ronald Goldman, 25, who had brought Nicole the eyeglasses that her mother had left behind at the restaurant where he waited tables.

Ronald Goldman
Ronald Goldman
Detectives, reportedly concerned about Simpson's safety, went to his estate and noticed a bloodstain on the door of his white Ford Bronco and on the driveway, but Simpson proved to be out of town, in Chicago. When he returned to Los Angeles to answer questions, investigators saw a cut on the finger of his left hand, and they learned he'd still been in town at the time of the assault. He told several conflicting stories, raising their suspicions.

O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson
Several droplets of blood at the scene failed to show a match with the victims' blood types. Simpson's blood was drawn for comparison and it showed strong similarities with those unknown droplets. In addition, they were located near footprints made by a rare and expensive type of shoeshoes that O. J. owned and that proved to be his size.
There were other items of evidence against him as well, not the least of which was his "suicide drive" down the highway, complete with a passport and thousands of dollars. Circumstances and some of the best possible evidence were against him. Nevertheless, the defense team managed to refocus the jury's attention on corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department, rampant racism from the lead detective, ands the possibility that evidence had been planted to frame Simpson. His experts also showed that the crime lab had mishandled evidence, placing everything into doubt.
The jury briefly deliberated and then acquitted Simpson. He vowed to search for Nicole's killer, and as a matter of fact, another possible suspect did emerge not long afterward. He was angry, brutal, and quite vicious in the random murders he committed, and he always targeted beautiful women. He started in California, at least from what was known at the time. O.J. Simpson's trial was still in process when Glen Rogers became a murder suspect in a different incident not far away.
The primary sources for this story are two books, Clifford Linedecker's "Smooth Operator" and a book told to Joyce Spizer by Rogers' brother, Claude Rogers, Jr., "The Cross Country Killer." In addition, several major newspapers carried it. Often, the details conflict, but what follows is the essence of Rogers' activities.

Book cover: Cross Country Killer
Book cover: Cross Country Killer

Book cover: Smooth Operator
Book cover: Smooth Operator

The Lottery Winner


Map of California with Van Nuys locator
Map of California with Van Nuys locator
In September 1995, Rogers lived near McRed's cocktail lounge in Van Nuys, California, and he liked to stop in for drinks. Linedecker says he was generous with money and quite charming with women, especially women with red hair or reddish tones in their hair (a theme repeated by newspapers and authors seeking to make a connection between Rogers' victims and his redheaded mother). Rogers himself was blond and wore his hair quite long and shaggy. He was well-built, handsome, and had sparkling blue eyes. In addition, he was said to have such a smooth personality that he could talk most people into doing anything for him. He didn't hesitate to approach women to whom he was attracted, and he often pestered McRed's female bartender, Rein Keener, to go out with him. She repeatedly declined, which annoyed him. Still, he persisted.

Glen Rogers
Glen Rogers
One day, Sandra Gallagher, a 33-year-old mother of three, according to the Associated Press, came into the bar. She had won $1250 in a lottery game, so she was out to celebrate. As she went on the dance floor, Rogers watched her. It was his habit to study women to see if they'd yield to his will. Any sign of self-confidence turned him off, no matter how pretty. Their postures, their clothing, their hairstyles he read them all before he made his approach.
That evening, Rogers had been looking for attention, as usual from the bartender, telling her he needed a ride back to his place that day. Linedecker writes that she initially agreed to it, but then had a bad feeling, so she changed her mind. That made Rogers mad, and he allegedly told her, "I always get what I want." She would tell this story many times to the press in the days that followed.
Rogers then made overtures to Gallagher, who initially declined to give him a ride, but she, too, changed her mind. Apparently she was feeling charitable that day, thanks to her recent good luck. She left the bar with Rogers, assuring Keener that she felt safe because she "knew" him possibly believing that his association with the bar made him safe. Why would a man whom everyone saw with her try to harm her?
The next morning, Gallagher's badly charred body was found in her incinerated truck, although it took four more days to positively identify her, and the autopsy showed that she had been raped and strangled. But Rogers, once a regular at the bar, was nowhere to be found. He'd also left his digs, where police found a woman's earring that had belonged to the victim. Someone later reported that an acquaintance of his said that Rogers had referred to this murder as the "eighth time."
But Rogers had boarded a bus (or purchased a truck) and he was gone. The police had a difficult time tracking him, which proved unfortunate for at least three more women. But another murder had also drawn police attention to Rogers, and this victim was a man.

Leaving the Scene


Map of Ohio with Hamilton locator
Map of Ohio with Hamilton locator
Before Rogers went to California, he had lived in the town of Hamilton, Ohio. He worked odd jobs, barely making a living, but his mother would not let him live with her. A seventy-one-year-old electrician and veteran, Mark Peters, offered to take Glen in and help him get on his feet. He'd ask him to do some light errands in exchange for room and board.

Edna Rogers (left) with Mark Peters
Edna Rogers (left) with Mark Peters
Peters had a loving family in the area, so when he turned up missing late in October, his daughter, Joan, reported it to the police. She said that Peters had had a collection of coins, some antiques, and several guns, all of which were missing. The police searched extensively but found no trace of the missing man.

Sign: Hamilton Police Headquarters
Sign: Hamilton Police Headquarters
Glen Rogers was gone as well, as was Peters' car, and the police asked Glen's brother, Clay, recently returned from prison, what he might know. Clay apparently told the police that Glen had been anxious to raise money for his bail. He was going to steal what he could from Peters and sell it. That had been in October. A little while later, Glen had reported to Clay that Peters was dead, and that it had been accidental. He'd also gone up to the family cabin in Beattyville, Kentucky, so it was possible the police would find something there.
Officials in Kentucky searched the cabin and on January 10, 1994, found a skeleton, bound to a chair beneath a pile of furniture. Due to the state of the remains, official were unable to ascertain the cause of death. However, it looked like anything but an accident. They started the process of establishing the identity and only after two months of painstaking effort by technicians and anthropologists were they able to say that the remains were those of Mark Peters.
Before that occurred, Glen had been arrested in California and charged with assaulting a female, and the ID he showed the police there was that of James Peters, Mark's son. It was an early case of identity theft, wherein Rogers had used the social security card to get a California driver's license and had run up considerable bills that were sent to Mark Peters. So much for repaying an old man's kindness. His family was left bereft.
While the police tried to find him, he proved elusive, giving him time to kill again and then flee to another state.

Going South

Apparently, Rogers went straight to Jackson, Mississippi, from California and settled among the residents there. He had no idea that a federal warrant had been issued for his arrest: He was wanted by the FBI. He contacted a friend for money but stayed away from places where he was known.

Linda Price
Linda Price
In Jackson, he moved from one cheap motel to another. Going to a state fair early that October, he met Linda Price, 34, another redhead and a mother of two. Linedecker describes her as having an "irresistible zest for life." At 5 feet 4 inches and 110 pounds, she was slim and attractive. They met in a tent sponsored by the local newspaper. Rogers' good looks and smooth tongue must have won her over, because he moved in with her for several weeks and they became drinking buddies.
Her brother warned her that Rogers was no good, but she ignored him. Having been through a rough time with men, she liked the way he was treating her. Besides, she was lonely and it was nice to have some company. She stayed in touch with her mother, assuring her that she was happy.
On November 3, after her family became concerned that they had not heard from her, they sent the police to check her apartment. Officers discovered Linda sprawled naked in the bathtub, stabbed to death. She was lying face-down, and there were four vicious stab wounds to her back and chest. In addition, her throat had been slashed. The pathologist estimated that Linda had been dead from two to four days, although it was difficult from the state of her remains to pin down an exact time. Her red Datsun pick-up was missing, as was her purse and some jewelry. So was her new boyfriend. In fact, he'd been pretty thorough about erasing his presence. He'd showered the body to wash away the blood, and perhaps any trace evidence that could connect him, and had cleaned the apartment of his fingerprints.
Oddly, a message written in lipstick on the mirror seemed to throw the blame on someone else: "Glen, we found you," it said, as if someone had been looking for him and he'd hightailed it out of there before they arrived, so they'd killed Linda instead. It was a fairly transparent ploy, and no one believed that anyone but Glen Rogers had killed her. When the police put his name into the computer for the FBI's national crime database, they turned up the arrest warrant from Van Nuys. Now they knew they had a killer, and perhaps even a serial killer.
Again, Rogers boarded a bus and went to Louisiana, where he met Andy Jiles (or Lou) Sutton, 37, in a bar in the Shreveport suburb, Bossier City. He left with Sutton and managed to persuade her to let him stay with her. But before he did, in an inexplicable side trip, he took a bus to Tampa, Florida. He'd be back, driving a car that he hadn't had before, but Andy would never know from whom he had stolen it.

Gibtown


Map of Florida with Gibsonton locator
Map of Florida with Gibsonton locator
Having worked on the carnival circuit as a way to cross the country, Rogers certainly knew about Gibsonton, Florida, or Gibtown, as the residents called it. He probably figured it would be easy to pick up a woman there, although she might be a little unusual.

Sign: Gibtown, Florida
Sign: Gibtown, Florida
Gibsonton is a unique town south of Tampa, the residence of numerous "carnies," such as the bearded lady, Rubberface, the human blockhead, midgets and giants. Most of the buildings are one-story, run-down concrete eyesores, but it's interesting to enter a grocery store to see the mixed clientele. Some residents kept elephants in their yards. They lived in this place because they were "different," and had a shared history of being outcasts and exhibits in traveling carnivals. There was once even a sensational murder in Gibtown once, of a bully known as Lobster Boy.

Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr.
Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr.
Grady Franklin Stiles, Jr. was born with a deformity that made his hands look like lobster claws. He was sixth in a line of men in his family with such a deformity, and two of his four his children had it as well. He also could not walk, due to legs that had developed imperfectly. He was known to be mean, even abusive, and he actually shot a young man who became interested in his daughter. However, because no prison could deal with his deformity, he escaped serving time. His second wife apparently decided that she'd been abused long enough and mentioned to a relative that something had to be done about him. On November 29, 1992, only three years earlier, a neighbor hired by Grady's son-in-law shot and killed him as he watched television. The crime drew media attention to the town of carnival "freaks."
 

Tina


Showtown USA bar, Gibsonville, Florida
Showtown USA bar, Gibsonville, Florida
Whether or not Rogers knew about it, he certainly knew what the town would be like. He signed into the Tampa 8 Inn for three nights and found a bar nearby called Showtown USA, where he ordered a drink and looked around. It was the afternoon of November 5. Rogers spotted four women out together, and one of them drew his attention the one with a touch of red in her hair and the hint of insecurity. At 34, Tina Marie Cribbs, a mother of two, was carving out a meager living as a maid at the Ramada Inn at Apollo Beach. She was at the bar with three other maids, just trying to enjoy herself after work.
According to witnesses, Rogers began to flirt with the women, giving out two different names (neither of which was Glen), and because he was handsome and in good physical shape, they enjoyed his attention. He danced with them and they were happy to have him buy them drinks. He talked about his life as a carnie, hawking food and tearing down rides. Then he said he needed a ride back to where he was staying for the winter. His familiarity with their area put the women at ease. He wasn't a stranger at all; he was one of them. Cindy Torgerson would later say, "He was picking us out, like oranges."
He persuaded Cribbs to give him a ride and apparently talked her into coming into his motel with him (or forced her). In fact, before she left, she'd ordered a drink, expecting to return within five or ten minutes, but she never showed up. Her worried mother, set to meet her at the bar, paged her and then filed a missing persons report. People saw them together, so Rogers was an obvious suspect when her body was found two days later. She lay facedown in a blood-splashed bathtub in room 119 at the Tampa 8 Inn, stabbed and slashed in numerous places, front and back. Her body appeared to have been washed clean of blood. Her purse, a gold watch, and a diamond ring were missing.
Witnesses said they had seen Rogers leave the hotel in a car that was identified as Tina's. He'd left a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and had requested that no one clean his room, giving himself some time to escape. Oddly enough, he had signed his own name to the hotel register. Apparently Rogers then called a relative in Ohio and said he'd killed someone. He also said there would be more. By then, he was back in Louisiana.

The Body Count Grows


Logo: America's Most Wanted
Logo: America's Most Wanted
Police in the various jurisdictions quickly swapped information, and the search for Rogers intensified. "America's Most Wanted," a popular Fox television show dedicated to finding fugitives from the law, agreed to air a broadcast about the case to ask citizens for help. Rogers' picture was printed in several newspapers and on televised news reports. Police went into the traveling carnivals that came out of the Tampa area to ask if anyone had seen him, because he was known to find his way to different places to pick up work. Reported sightings failed to materialize into a significant lead.
By this time, Rogers was back with redheaded Andy Sutton, dancing and drinking in a bar. She had missed him and was glad to have him back. Everyone was impressed with how nice Rogers appeared to be, and he certainly treated Andy well. They went from one bar to another, where Andy was known, before ending up back at her apartment above a Mormon church. Andy had a roommate, but she was out. Even when she did come in late that night, she didn't disturb them. If she had, she might have found Andy's body much earlier.
The following day, Nov. 9, the roommate found Andy stabbed to death on the punctured waterbed. The weapon had been large, leaving jagged wounds in her chest and a lot of blood, soaked into the blankets and sheets. Water from the bed had leaked all over the floor. When the body was transported for autopsy, six more stab wounds were found in her back. Rogers had apparently been angry.
He'd also been quiet, because he'd managed to accomplish the killing, as well as some petty theft, while the roommate was sleeping on the couch. She knew that he had been there because her purse was missing.
Rogers was seen that morning, placing items in a white Ford Festiva outside Sutton's home. The car had belonged to Tina Marie Cribbs. He left behind the red Datsun pickup that he'd stolen in Mississippi. Rogers was immediately named as a suspect, wanted in connection with this murder, and Louisiana joined California, Ohio, Florida and Mississippi in an urgent search. Where he was heading at that moment was anyone's guess, but he was clearly dangerous.

Most Wanted


Logo: FBI Ten Most Wanted
Logo: FBI Ten Most Wanted
The FBI added Rogers to their Ten Most Wanted list. They circulated his description to over 42,000 law enforcement agencies across the nation. He did not, as they anticipated, return to his home town of Hamilton, Ohio (although he would later claim that he had indeed gone there for a few days.) As they pieced together Rogers' activities over the past month and a half, law enforcement determined that he'd gone from California to Florida, killing at least four women along the way.
The description of Rogers placed in newspapers noted his penchant for women with red hair whom he met in country music bars. He was considered a smooth talker who lied easily and could persuade women to do whatever he wanted. And he wasn't being particularly secretive. He'd signed his own name at one hotel, and had told a bar-hopping acquaintance that he had committed murder. In fact, while he was on the run, he'd gone into several bars, showing his face as if he hadn't a care in the world, even drawing attention to himself by flashing money and buying everyone drinks. He seemed to know his days were numbered, and until he was caught, he was just doing whatever he wanted. Or else he had no awareness of the visibility of the trail he had left behind.
Agents knew that Rogers had two teenage sons living in Houston, Texas, and although a court order had barred him from seeing them, they thought he might be headed there. He might also head to Canada, where his grandmother lived. "America's Most Wanted" rushed its program to the screen. Flashing photographs and providing all known information to that point, the host, John Walsh, asked anyone who may have seen this dangerous fugitive to call the hotline. More than 400 people called, but no one provided a viable lead.
Rogers' relatives, alert to the situation, went onto news shows to urge him to turn himself in. As quoted in the Austin American Statesman, his mother, Edna Rogers, went on a Cincinnati-based television program and said, "Glen, babe, if you hear this, please give up. Please. I love you." She admitted to police that he had phoned her to tell her he was wanted and had assured her that he'd done nothing wrong; she believed him. But she did not want him to be shot while on the run, so she had sent out the appeal.

Spree vs. Serial

Even as interest surrounded Rogers, a debate emerged as to whether he would be considered a serial killer or spree murderer, in the event he was convicted of all of the crimes with which he'd be charged. But murderers generally don't think about such categories when they act. They just act, so it's not always easy to pigeonhole them.
According to the FBI's Crime Classification Manual, which many law enforcement agencies acknowledge, there are three basic categories of multiple murder: mass, spree and serial. The first involves a single extreme incident and the other two multiple incidents, but with different manifestations.

Book cover: FBI's Crime Classification Manual
Book cover: FBI's Crime Classification Manual
In strict terms, mass murder is the killing of a number of persons at one time and in one place (usually four or more), such as James Huberty's 1984 fatal shooting of twenty-one people at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif. However, mass murder also included cases where the killings were a few hours apart, or at closely related locales.

James Huberty
James Huberty
If a single precipitating incident is linked to all of the murders, but they're days or even weeks apart, the offender is considered a spree killer. Serial killers, too, may commit multiple murders across several weeks, but what distinguishes them is a hiatus, or psychological "cooling off" period, between murders. No one really knows just how long that might be.
The distinction between a long spree and a series of murders attributed to a serial killer seems to rest heavily on method and motive. Serial killing is most often either a profitable crime, a crime for thrill and self-gratification, or a lust-driven crime where the killer may operate compulsively within an erotic ritual. Occasionally, it's about revenge. Spree killing, on the other hand, appears to be motivated by continuing and identifiable stress, taking place in several locales, and across a relatively short period.
If we examine Rogers' crimes and motives, it seems that he killed both for financial gain and his own satisfaction or relief (assuming his murders were triggered by anger). That he was sloppy in allowing people to see him with all of his victims may have truncated his killing spree, speeding it up with the stress factor of realizing that he would probably be caught or killed. Thus, he could be classified as either a serial or spree killer. Neither category is incorrect. In fact, he might be similar to the Beltway snipers, John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who started out with sporadic kills and then went on a spree for three weeks in October 2002.

Lee Boyd Malvo (left) with John Muhammad
Lee Boyd Malvo (left) with John Muhammad
In the end, it doesn't matter, because Rogers' identity was known from the first murder.

On the Run

Rogers hid out where he could, using James Peters as an alias and stealing a license plate in Tennessee to put on the stolen car. But he was moving inevitably toward home, where he felt safe, despite part of him knowing the police would be looking for him there. They dubbed him the "cross country killer."
On Nov. 13, 1995, Rogers visited two elderly cousins in Waco, Kentucky, not far from Beattyville, to ask for money. He was driving the white Ford Festiva. They urged him to turn himself in, but he wept and said he was confused. He may have told his siblings at this time that he had committed murder. In any event, after he asked them to pray for him and drove away, an anonymous call was placed to the police to alert them to his recent whereabouts. Later, it turned out that Edith Smallwood, his cousin, had turned him in. "I love Glen, and it hurt," she told the Lexington Herald-Ledger, "but he had to be stopped."

Robert Stephens
Robert Stephens
One detective, Robert Stephens, who had a photo of the 33-year-old suspect in his possession, knew what kind of car to look for. When he spotted a white Ford parked in a specific spot, he pulled up beside it. The driver was drinking a beer. The trooper took a good look at the long-haired man and knew he had found the notorious fugitive. Rogers stared back at him for a long moment and then threw his beer car at the trooper's car.
He screeched out of there, taking off before the cop could get out and make an arrest. But Stephens was hard on Rogers' heels, calling for back-up even as he accelerated. Soon half a dozen police cars had joined the chase.

Glen Rogers, captured
Glen Rogers, captured
Rogers led them for fifteen miles, according to the Patriot Ledger, going through two towns and even busting through a roadblock. He sometimes reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour. A trooper shot at his tires once to try to slow him down, but only when he finally spun out did Rogers bring his car to a stop. The police cruisers quickly surrounded him. They shoved him face-down on the ground, arrested him and took him to the state police station in Richmond, Kentucky, for questioning.
The media frenzy was on. Rogers' sister, Sue, agreed to be interviewed for a popular television tabloid show, "A Current Affair,"saying that Rogers had admitted to having killed 55 people. He frightened her. Although Rogers claimed he had killed no one, he was about to change his story.

Shocking Confession

Once caught, Rogers began to confess. One officer told reporters he was "talking his head off," and he apparently went on for four hours. His interrogators, Stephens and Detective Floyd McIntosh, found him personable and "smooth," and they could see how he used his silver tongue to lure women to trust him. When they told him they were interested in him for five murders, he laughed and told them it was more like 70. This statement made its way to the press, and soon Rogers was being touted as the country's most prolific serial killer. Police departments with unsolved murders in more than two hundred jurisdictions where he was thought to have traveled or resided started to look at their cases more closely.
Given his time with carnivals, he could easily have killed in many places and then quietly left town. Several investigations were reopened, especially in those states were he had allegedly killed. From tips, police did a few excavations in search of more bodies. Even male victims were considered, given the Mark Peters murder. It looked as if Rogers killed as much for gain as for some type of sexual or emotional release.
Clay Rogers added to the search, according to Linedecker, when he said to a television interviewer that there was a hidden cemetery full of victims on the family farm. It had been used for at least a quarter of a century. But nothing came of that "tip," either.��
Rogers clearly loved the attention, although he eventually asked for an attorney and stopped talking. Apparently he didn't care for the pressure to provide details about the victims the police actually knew about. In these particular cases, he did not offer a confession.

Madison County Detention Center
Madison County Detention Center
Rogers was taken to the Madison County Detention Center in Richmond and placed in a special cell, where he would be repeatedly checked to prevent a suicide attempt. In the meantime, the court appointed Erwin Lewis as Rogers' attorney, and he informed the media that Rogers would be talking to no one.��
Rogers was being held on minor charges, including first-degree wanton endangerment, but this time, he was not going to be cut loose. In prison, he began selling locks of his blond hair and beard to the eager buyers that always emerge in such cases, as well as autographed index cards. These fetched $30 apiece. He became a favorite of adoring young girls, who would flock to his hearings and trials. A Web site devoted to serial killers kept a daily log (this was before blogs existed).
It wasn't long, however, before Rogers recanted his confession and claimed that he hadn't killed anyone: He was entirely innocent. He said he'd just been joking about 70 bodies. Regarding the alleged crimes, he said he'd just happened to have been with the wrong women at the wrong time. It was all an unfortunate coincidence, and that made him a victim as well. This theme would play out for the years that his case stretched out, and once his brother described his background in a book, the source of Rogers' violence, as well as for his eventual attempts to frame others for the crimes, was clarified.

A Killer's Life

As is often the case with such men, people were curious as to how Rogers could have become a multiple murderer. We'll start from the beginning. Rogers was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio, a southwestern town near the Erie Canal. Linedecker provides details about his early family life, as does Spizer, in her "as-told-to" account from Claude, Jr., 13 years his senior.

Glen's parents, Edna and Claude Rogers Sr.
Glen's parents, Edna and Claude Rogers Sr.
Claude does a decent job, if sometimes too pat, of describing incidents that, collectively may well have influenced Rogers to become the explosive type of killer he was. Born to parents well past the time they had raised his six bothers and sisters, Glen had a difficult birth and suffered from sleeping disorders, ADHD and repeated head-banging. He was impulsive and seemed always to be in motion, but more importantly, he had a difficult time digesting stress, and he reacted in anger to the constant abuse, neglect, and deprivation that his family suffered mostly at the hands of his parents. He indulged in substance abuse at a young age, with both alcohol and drugs.

The Rogers children 1975, Glen in front row, center.
The Rogers children 1975, Glen in front row, center.
His mother, in particular, was said to be mean. On one occasion, Claude says, she dunked Glen's head underwater for fooling around with his brother in the bathtub, and he nearly drowned. (Claude also points out that it's not coincidental that two victims were stabbed to death in bathtubs.) Another time, Edna nearly smothered him, and once, she stressed out while in the car with the kids and decided they should all just die. She sped toward the edge of a cliff, but didn't complete the action. She apparently thought her bullying was the way to control her children's behavior, and while the others did not end up becoming serial killers, Glen, with his impulsive, reactive nature, apparently twisted his anger into a solid knot. In later life, women with reddish hair would trigger it, and they suffered for what he probably had wanted to do to his mother when he was a boy.
Perhaps just as important was the day Glen got into trouble in school, and Edna came in to find out who had victimized him. Blaming others was an attitude she modeled, which Rogers picked up on and carried into all of his crimes: He was not responsible, someone else was. Nevertheless, by age 11, he was in reform school.

Problems with Women

Rogers dropped out of high school and married a woman named Debbie, with whom he had two sons, and he tattooed Debbie's name onto the top of his right hand. At the time, Rogers worked as a cab driver for Ohio Taxi. In Hamilton, he built up quite a police record, from assault to driving infractions to forgery and arson. He even once threatened the police with a blowtorch, which got him three months in jail. He had a short temper, and beat up his wife on several occasions. That marriage ended. Debbie got a court order barring him from her and the boys, and eventually she moved to Texas.
Rogers married again to a woman named Paula, but she was a brunette, not a redhead. He drove cabs and apparently took Ritalin, a stimulant. Later in life, he worked his way across the country in traveling carnivals, primarily the Farrow Amusement and Charles companies. In general, he set up and broke down rides, or hawked food, living hand to mouth. He was a drifter, but also had reason to leave a number of places. Spizer says, "The police recorded a total of 52 arrests, traffic stops, and citations against Glen Rogers between April 10, 1990 and October 12, 1993."
During one of his jail stints in the 1980s, Rogers was diagnosed with porphyria, an enzyme deficiency that causes a defect in the bone marrow that inhibits the oxygen-carrying blood cells. Sufferers experience an extreme sensitivity to light. Linedecker says that perhaps that's why darkened barrooms appealed to him.
(It should be noted that there's an odd tension in the book by Rogers and Spitzer; Claude seems to want to find excuses for his brother and even to exonerate him from the murders, but at the same time, one gets the impression that the more murders that can be attributed to Glen Rogers the better, which is possibly Spitzer's influence; certainly one of them hints that he may have committed some of the murders attributed to the Green River Killer and also makes a strong case that he murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. However, some of the facts of these cases are stated in error. In any event, the impression from reading this account of Rogers is a jarring sense of ambivalence about his status as a killer perhaps worse than we realize.)
Rogers seemed always to have trouble with women, brutalizing any with whom he got involved. He was now going to pay the price for believing he could freely take out his rage on innocent victims, living or dead. The states were he killed were seeking to bring him to trial. But he was also eyed in another murder, in fact a double homicide, because O. J. Simpson, acquitted in a criminal trial for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, was heading to the civil courtroom, sued by the victims' families for wrongful death.

Back to LA

Spizer takes great pains in "The Cross Country Killer" to support the notion that Rogers knew Nicole and possibly killed her. Linedecker mentions the connection as well, but shows why it's a rather unlikely possibility.
Rogers had left Ohio for California in 1993, and was in the Los Angeles area in 1994. He allegedly bragged to a drinking companion that he had killed at least eight times, so the five to which he has been definitively linked may not be his only victims (although some murders in which he was suspected proved to be solved in other ways).

William Pavelic
William Pavelic
According to Linedecker, the private detective for Simpson, William Pavelic supposedly said that he had spoken with an acquaintance of Rogers' who claimed that Rogers had actually admitted that he was responsible for the double homicide and had framed O.J. for them. O.J.'s attorney was looking for any other viable suspect. The New York Post ran a story quoting Rogers' associate to the effect that Rogers was actually in the bushes outside Nicole's Brentwood condo, stalking her after she'd broken up with him, when Goldman arrived. Rogers killed both and then admitted his deed to the story's source; the man was even allowed to touch the knife that Rogers had used. The Post included Pavelic's claim that he had found evidence linking Rogers to the Simpson/Goldman murders. This included the fact that Rogers, working as a house painter, had been on a job in the area three months before the incident, not far from the condo. He said that the defense team would base their defense for Simpson on the possible association.
Rogers liked to slash and stab his victims, and the victims had been slashed and stabbed. However, Rogers also liked to take credit for murders he did not commit. Linedecker indicates there are more reasons to disregard Rogers as a suspect than to accept him. Among them are the fact that the killer was probably stalking Nicole, and Rogers did not tend to be a stalker; Nicole had no red tint in her hair; O.J.'s blood and DNA linked him to the scene; no physical evidence links Rogers to the crimes; Rogers' MO was to leave the area after killing, but he didn't leave LA until 1995; and Rogers never used gloves.
The L.A. police found the suggestion that Rogers was the killer to be without substance, and Pavelic backpedaled by saying that he had checked out the tip about Rogers but had never said that the defense team would use it; in fact, he claimed that he'd never even told them about it (although they certainly knew about it from some source). In addition, if there had been any good reason to believe that Rogers was a viable suspect, O.J.'s attorney in the civil suit would have raised it. However, he made no mention of Rogers as a suspect. In a later interview, Simpson himself dismissed the possibility.
Then it was learned that the source of the story about Rogers' confession failed a polygraph, and that revelation appeared to diminish confidence in the entire scheme. The New York Daily News indicated that Simpson's attorneys had never intended to use the information about Rogers, viewing it as ludicrous. However, Spizer, with Claude Rogers, Jr., has kept the story alive with counterarguments in her 2001 book. Let's look at their side of the story.

Nicole's "Play-toy"

Spizer indicates that Rogers met the former Mrs. Simpson when he was painting her house, and she invited him inside. She may have wanted him as a new "toy" because she "was the original party girl." (That story alone undermines the credibility of the rest, given how easily she could attract wealthy, accomplished men.) Rogers apparently said he did not know who O.J. Simpson was.
They went to clubs together not long before she died, and there were photos taken of the two of them together the night before (not supplied in this book). Rogers' brother Clay claimed he'd received a phone call in which Rogers claimed to be with Nicole at that very moment. He supposedly said, "This lady is loaded and I'm gonna take her down." He later claimed that they'd been dating but that she'd "dropped" him to go back to O.J. (another unlikely story). O.J. came over that night and hugged her. Then Rogers committed the double murder and let O.J. be arrested.
Spizer says a blond strand of hair was found beneath Nicole's body that was not hers and that some DNA found at the scene did not match O.J. or the victims. (Although the defense team for O.J.'s civil trial did contact Rogers, they apparently never thought to see if the unidentified DNA matched.) Spizer (and Claude Jr.) suggests that Rogers was with O.J. that night, helping him, although how he came to be a murderous companion of O.J.'s is never explained.
To bolster the argument, they indicate that a psychic told the police that a blond-haired serial killer was Nicole's murderer (but Rogers was not a serial killer until more than a year later, not to mention how unreliable psychic impressions are.) The arguments they offer about time frames work no better in this book than they worked for the defense team, and criminalist Henry Lee's supposed identification of a second shoe print turned out to be a misidentification.
In the end, while the Spizer/Rogers book adds a lot to our knowledge about Glen Rogers, it does not close the case on the Simpson/Goldman murders.
But other cases were about to be closed.

Florida Trial


Glen Rogers
Glen Rogers
Over the defense attorney's protest, Kentucky officials agreed to extradite Rogers to Florida to stand trial for first-degree murder, because they thought Florida had the best evidentiary case. Horstman wrote about it for the Cincinnati Post. Kentucky made a deal that, if acquitted in Florida or convicted but not given the death penalty, Rogers would be sent back to stand trial for the 1993 murder of Mark Peters.
Rogers immediately protested his representation by the Public Defender's Office, claming they did not believe he was innocent and they were secretly conspiring to send him to the electric chair. He wanted to represent himself. They in turn claimed he was undermining their efforts by talking with the media. The judge granted Rogers a private attorney, Nick Sinardi. He soon suggested that Cribbs may have been killed by another man someone she was seen with after Rogers was with her. In fact, the attempt to throw the blame on another man became something of a circus in itself.
A few weeks before the trial began in April 1997, Assistant DA Karen Cox from the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office ordered that Rogers' cell at the Morgan Street jail be thoroughly searched, along with the cells of three other inmates. Cox had no warrant but nevertheless seized three boxes full of photographs and papers, as reported in the Tampa Tribune. The materials removed from the cell were related to the Cribbs case, but officials from the DA's office declined to specify what they were. They stated that to search a jail cell, no warrant was necessary.
Rogers called Sondra London, a groupie who had befriended notorious serial killer Danny Rolling, the Gainesville Ripper. She not only helped him to publish a book but was also briefly engaged to him. She was reportedly writing a book about Rogers. She told the press that the DA had declined to give Rogers an inventory of what they had taken, but he was certain that some of it was confidential letters between himself and his attorney protected material. These letters contained Nick Sinardi's specific defense strategy. Sinardi challenged the search, demanding the return of all items taken.
Less than a week later, the papers were returned, on the judge's orders, but no explanation was forthcoming to reporters as to why they had been seized at all. There were hints that the action was part of a criminal investigation unrelated to the pending trial. Strangely, one of the prosecutors admitting to taking some of the items home for the purpose of keeping them secure, but claimed not to have read the documents.
Sinardi requested that none of the material in the documents be used against his client in court. Reporters speculated that because the cell of another suspected killer, Jonathan Lundin, had been searched, and he had killed a Gibsonton woman in 1996. Sinardi was going to finger this person for Cribbs' murder.
Then one of the other three inmates reported that Rogers had attempted to get Lundin to agree to take the fall. Lundin was named as a defense witness, but he said he would plead the fifth and say nothing at all. He claimed he was not in town at the time of the Cribbs murder (and his employer gave him an alibi). In fact, he'd known Cribbs and her mother and wanted to kill Rogers for what he'd done.
Back to square one. During the trial, Rogers' attorneys attempted to portray him as psychotic, due to early alcoholism, repeated head-banging incidents as a child, and a history of truancy and problems in school. While they did indicate that Cribbs had been seen with another man, they were unable to explain why he was driving Ms. Cribbs' car when he was finally caught (he said she had let him borrow it). Also, his fingerprints were lifted from her missing wallet, found discarded in an interstate rest area, and spots of her blood was found on shorts he had in his possession.
The jury listened to the evidence, along with the witness reports, and convicted Rogers of murder. They then sentenced him to death. Rogers reportedly said he was not concerned. He believed he would one day be exonerated.

The California Trial

In July 1997, the State of California indicted Rogers on counts of first-degree murder and arson. The governors of California and Florida reached an agreement that would extradite Rogers to California to stand trial. Afterward, he'd be transported to Florida to serve his sentence. In October, he found himself once again in Los Angeles, to stand trial for strangling Sandra Gallagher and leaving her body in her burning automobile. The judge allowed evidence from the murders in other states because they showed his pattern.
On June 16, 1999, Rogers took the stand in his trial to insist on his innocence in the Gallagher murder. He said that a business associate, Istvan "Steve" Kele, was the real killer. He claimed that the last time he had seen Gallagher, she was alive and with Kele, who was on parole for shooting a maintenance man in 1972. He went back to prison for violating parole, but at the time of the murder, he was free. Rogers further stated that after leaving the apartment with Gallagher, Kele then called Rogers to report that he had killed Gallagher.
However, at this point, Rogers was prohibited from saying anything more about that conversation. He did indicate that he did not believe what Kele had said, although he admitted that he "kind of felt that she was [dead] and was upset about it."
In closing arguments, Prosecutor Pat Dixon referred to his performance on the stand as "false, syrupy, sweet, sick." She claimed that the murder was premeditated, not an act of passion as the defense attorney suggested, and therefore should be punished as aggravated murder.
After four days of deliberation, on June 22, 1999, the jury convicted Rogers of the murder, and a few weeks later sentenced him to die. That August, he was transported back to the control of Florida's Department of Corrections.
He still had to face charges in the murder in Jackson, Mississippi, and while he was a suspect in a murder in Bossier City, Louisiana, charges were not filed. As long as he faced two death sentences, enough seemed enough.

Lies to Others, Lies to Self

While Rogers clearly had problems both genetically and environmentally growing up, this would not cause someone to commit murder, especially not repeatedly. He did know what he was doing and that it was wrong, so he was perfectly aware that he was causing harm to others and yet he continued to do it. Then he attempted to frame others for it. There is little about his behavior that supports a diagnosis of psychosis.
Rogers' behavior is certainly in line with the kind of parenting he received and his apparent inability to deal with frustration, fear, and anger. He was clearly conflicted due to a love/hate relationship with his mother. Yet even that does not necessarily produce a killer or even a criminal offender.
Rogers demonstrated a mind that could compartmentalize and shift to whatever might work in his best interests, no matter how lacking in truth and no matter who might get hurt. He was apparently doing what comes naturally, going along the path of least resistance. In "A Mind of Its Own," Australian psychologist Cordelia Fine relies on brain research to describe just how our minds are set up for self-deception and self-assurance. All of us participate to some degree in self-deception, but some do it more profoundly than others. A psychopath is already poised to lie without remorse, but this added dimension provides an explanation for it.

Book cover: A Mind of Its Own
Book cover: A Mind of Its Own
Fine states that our brains have "some shifty habits that leave the truth distorted and disguised." In essence, it's untrustworthy even in the best of us, because the brain is an "adroit manipulator" of experience and information. It reacts emotionally, it stereotypes with impunity, it yields to social pressure and imagery, and it works to keep us thinking well of ourselves, even when the truth undermines that or when it may harm others. "The secretive unconscious delights in a handful of strings to pull, concealing from us many of the true influences on our thoughts and deeds."
In fact, the brain operates so subtly in these ways that we fail to see the distortions and thus we believe that the world really is as we experience it. Our concept of ourselves is fluid, shifting with whatever we find necessary to preserve our constructed ideal. We can only guard against this distortion by recognizing that this is how the brain behaves and working hard to overcome it. A killer like Glen Rogers, who wants to save himself from conviction and execution, is hardly likely to be thus motivated. In fact, he may well have convinced himself that he really was innocent.

Epilogue

Glen Rogers
Glen Rogers
Rogers had been scheduled to die in Florida on Feb 14, 1999, but he appealed right away to the Florida Supreme Court, raising several issues. He claimed that the State had not presented sufficient evidence to support the charges and that the trial court had erred in the handling of mitigating circumstances. Rogers also argued that the trial court should have granted the defense's motions for a mistrial because a witness was allowed to testify about a misdemeanor for which Rogers was convicted in California. In addition, the prosecution was allowed to present an improper argument during closing arguments (and one that had gotten another conviction overturned in a different trial). Rogers also contended that there was newly discovered evidence.
His appeal was delayed until March 2001, and then denied.
In 2002, reporters Stephen Combs and John Eckberg co-published "Road Dog," emphasizing how law enforcement had allowed Rogers to slip away from the murder he'd committed in Kentucky in 1993. They contend that Rogers was a good suspect in the murder of Mark Peters, but a series of mistakes allowed him to get away. Before the other murders had occurred, California police had arrested him and contacted Ohio law enforcement. Detectives from Hamilton intended to fly to California to question Rogers about Mark Peters, but their chief believed it would be a waste of time and money. He canceled their trip. Combs and Eckberg, both of whom had covered the case from different angles, wanted the public (and police) to realize that economic considerations of this nature where a killer is concerned can and did - cost lives.
In April 2005, Rogers filed another appeal, which is still pending. In the event his death sentence is ever overturned, based on a charge of prosecutorial misconduct, it will nullify his eligibility in California to be executed. Perhaps Louisiana or Mississippi will step forward. Once can only wonder who Rogers might blame in those murders. Although he claims the experience has taught him the reality of coincidence, it's doubtful that any jury looking at his case will agree.

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