It’s the 74th day of January and it feels like it’s getting colder every day. Or maybe my tolerance for winter is just constantly dwindling?
Last weekend we had a crazy amount of snow dumped on us, although it was nothing compared to what the people of Newfoundland dealt with. (Seriously, look up Newfoundland snowfall. The pictures are ridiculous. Trudeau had to send in the fucking army to dig people out.)
They’re calling for more snow this weekend in my neck of the woods and I’m over it. But at the same time, it’s not so bad. What better reason to stay inside and read all day than “I’m fucking snowed in!” Joy.
Today’s #TCT post feels totally on theme.
This is the story of Fred and Edwina Rogers, who were quite literally, put on ice.
It was June 23, 1965, in Houston, Texas.
Fred and Edwina Rogers, 81 and 72 respectively, hadn’t answered their phone in three days and their nephew, Marvin Marlin, was growing increasingly concerned. Marvin decided to go to their home but found the house was all locked up and the blinds drawn closed. He had no way to check on his aunt and uncle, so he called the police and requested a welfare check.
Around 9 p.m., two police officers accompanied Marvin to the Rogers’ house and knocked on the door. When there was no answer they kicked the door in. Inside, there was no sign of the elderly couple or their 43-year-old son, Charles, who still lived at home but was known as a recluse.
The 1-and-a-half story home was disorderly, but Marvin said neither his aunt or uncle were the best housekeepers, so that didn’t seem odd to him. What did seem odd was the mouldy dinner on the table and the smell of rot coming from the 3-by-5 electric refrigerator in the kitchen.
An officer opened the fridge and saw what he, at first, thought was stacks of washed, but unwrapped “hog meat” lining every shelf in the fridge. It was when he opened the crisper drawer that he realized his initial assumption was very wrong.
An article from the Amarillo Globe Times described the scene: “On all the shelves and in the freezer compartment were the dismembered [body parts of Fred and Edwina], cut in unwrapped, washed off pieces smaller than individual joints. There was little food in the icebox.”
In the vegetable crisper were the severed heads of Fred and Edwina.
A murder investigation ensued and Charles became the number one suspect. I mean, who else would think to lock up the house after killing his parents in a very personal, demented way?
Investigators determined that Edwina had been beaten and then shot execution-style. Fred had been beaten to death with a claw hammer. His eyes had been gouged from his skull and his genitals had been removed.
After Fred and Edwina were dead, they were dragged into the downstairs bathtub, according to a quote from the Amarillo Globe Times by Captain (at the time) L.D. Morrison. It was in here that the bodies were completely drained of blood, their limbs and torsos cut into fridge-sized pieces. The couple’s organs were later found in a nearby sewer – the killer had chopped them up and flushed them down the toilet.
The medical-examiner is quoted in the Amarillo Globe Times as saying: “Whoever did this apparently took their time and knew what they were doing. The dismembering was a fairly neat job.” Which, I guess as far as compliments go if you’re a murderer, that’s a good one.
The house had been carefully cleaned of the blood and evidence, though tests indicated a large amount of blood had been cleaned from the bathroom floor and tub. The wooden stairs leading to Charles’ bedroom had been scrubbed clean. In his room, there was lots of clothing, a hot plate and kettle, dishes and a collection of ham radios. There was also a bloodied keyhole saw.
Authorities determined they were looking for someone who had experience with anatomy. They believed the keyhole saw is what was used to dismember Fred and Edwina.
It was estimated that the Rogers’ had been dead for three days, meaning they were murdered on Father’s Day.
Charles Frederick Rogers was 43-years-old and said to be extremely intelligent and with an intense interest in ham radios. He spoke seven languages and had a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear physics. He had been a pilot for the US Navy during WWII and served in the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Upon discharge, he became a seismologist for Shell Oil Company. At some point in the 1950s, Charles is said to have been involved in the Civil Air Patrol where he met David Ferrie – a man later accused of being involved in the plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
You’re going to think that’s just crazy information that doesn’t have anything to do with his parents’ death, but just fucking wait. It’s about to get a little bit crazier up in here.
After nine years with Shell, Charles inexplicably quit his job without explanation and moved in with his parents, but they rarely ever saw their son. Charles turned into a loner and recluse, living in the attic bedroom and only communicating with his parents through notes they would pass each other under his bedroom door.
After the murders of Fred and Edwina, an international manhunt commenced in search of Charles. Most of the Roberts’ neighbours were shocked to learn they had a son at all. Those who knew about Charles, like his cousin Marvin, said Charles rarely left the house, but when he did it was before dawn and he wouldn’t return until after dark.
What he did all day is totally unknown.
Despite a nation-wide manhunt, Charles would never be seen again.
In 1992, John R. Craig and Phillip A. Rogers documented Charles’ life in the book The Man on the Grassy Knoll.
In it, the authors – who were investigators for the National Intelligence Service Bureau – claim that Charles was a CIA agent until the mid-1980s. They accuse Charles of being one of the men who assassinated President John F. Kennedy and of impersonating Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City.
They say Charles was one of the “three tramps,” along with Charles Harrelson (father of actor Woody Harrelson) and Chauncey Holt, who were arrested in Dealey Plaza after the assassination of Kennedy.
The authors also claim that this is why Charles had to kill his parents – Edwina was listening to and keeping track of Charles’ CIA phone calls (that I guess he made over his home landline, okay.) The elderly couple knew too much and needed to be killed. So obviously, chopping them up into little pieces was the logical outcome of that.
According to The Man on the Grassy Knoll, Charles fled to Guatemala, where he likely died of old age.
The book has been heavily criticized for its complete lack of sources and blatantly fictionalized accounts of certain events, conversations and attributed thoughts. Go figure.
In 1997, forensic accountant Hugh Gardenier and his wife, Martha, began investigating the crime themselves. They wrote their own book detailing their theories, The Ice Box Murders.
In the book, they acknowledge that Charles had dealings with CIA contract workers while he was a seismologist for Shell, but they completely reject the notion that Charles was a CIA agent himself who needed to dismember his parents after they overheard his not-so-secret/secret phone calls from the attic about killing Kennedy. That’s a weird sentence.
Instead, the Gardeniers believe Charles was emotionally and physically abused as a child, and as an adult, by his father. Which, you know, cutting off his father’s genitals on Father’s Day, might confirm that a little bit.
They also claim that near the end of their life, Edwina and Fred were both defrauding their son, forging his signature on deeds of land he owned and taking out loans in his name and pocketing the money. The Gardeniers label Fred and Edwina “devious con artists.” They say Fred worked as a bookie, regularly engaging in gambling and fraud, stealing large sums of money from Charles and continuing to physically abuse the grown man.
So again, chop-chop I guess.
The Gardeniers claim Charles had been planning his parents’ death for years and used his “powerful friends,” whom he had met through his ham radio hobby while working in the oil industry, to flee to Mexico. They theorize Charles eventually ended up in Honduras where he experienced some cosmic karma when he was killed over a wage dispute with miners.
The Ice Box Murders has been called “a work of fact-based fiction.”
Charles Rogers was legally declared dead in absentia by a Houston judge in July 1975 so that his estate could be probated.
The murders of Fred and Edwina Rogers remains an unsolved case. Charles is still considered the only suspect.
The house where the murders took place, located at 1815 Driscoll St, remained empty and unsold until it was torn down in 1972. The lot was empty until 2000 when condominiums were built.
Ah, the circle of life.
This story takes so many strange turns. When I first started reading it, I was shocked enough by the idea of a recluse son who passes notes under a door, chopping up his parents and putting them in the fridge.
But the more research I did, the crazier it got.
I didn’t even scratch the surface of all the JFK assassination theories, because honestly, who has the fucking time? But if you do, the internet is a black hole that you can get lost in. Give it a shot.
What do you think of this case?
Until next time Booknerds…