As Killer Faces Sentencing, His Motive Remains Elusive
By Damien cave - The New York Times
January 27, 2006
One of the green plastic trash bags dumped 14 years ago off Route 72 in South Jersey contained the head of a man. Another bag held his torso and severed arms, while his legs were found in a third.
Ten months later, more bags surfaced. The police in Manchester Township, about 55 miles east of Philadelphia, found six bags near a dirt road, filled with the body parts of another man. Richard Rogers Jr., a Staten Island nurse, was convicted in November of murdering the two, Thomas Mulcahy, 57, a computer sales representative who was described by prosecutors as bisexual, and Anthony Marrero, 44, identified as a prostitute. Mr. Mulcahy, prosecutors said, was visiting Manhattan on business in July 1992.
Judge James Citta of New Jersey Superior Court will decide today whether Mr. Rogers should be sentenced to the maximum punishment of two life sentences. Mr. Rogers is suspected of at least two other murders, but prosecutors have said they do not have enough evidence.
Yet Mr. Rogers might never have been caught if not for the bags and the faint fingerprints they held. His crimes were meticulous, unobserved affairs hatched in the boozy haze of New York's upscale gay bars. Even now, after more than a decade of work, investigators say Mr. Rogers's motives remain a mystery.
"The big unanswered question in this case is why," said William Heisler, the Ocean County prosecutor who presented the case at a two-week trial in Toms River, N.J. "For whatever reason, he was targeting gay men in New York. All we know is they were drunk when they went missing."
The Townhouse Bar, on East 58th Street, between Second and Third Avenues, was one of Mr. Rogers's favorite haunts during the early 1990's. Little at the bar has changed over the years, according to employees, and last Saturday night well-dressed regulars sipped cocktails among paisley-print armchairs and bouquets of fresh lilies.
Rick Unterburg, the house piano player since 1989, said that Mr. Rogers used to show up on slow nights like Sundays. He described the convicted killer as nearly forgettable, of medium height and medium build, with a preference for warm sweaters and cold Scotch.
"He was dull," Mr. Unterburg, 47, said in an interview on Saturday just before his first set. "Just bland. The only reason I remember him is because he hung out at the piano."
Mr. Rogers, now 55, stopped going to the Townhouse around the same time that Mr. Mulcahy's body was found in New Jersey, said Mr. Unterburg, echoing his testimony at Mr. Rogers's trial. Mr. Mulcahy had been at the Townhouse shortly before he disappeared.
Mr. Mulcahy's death suggested a pattern. A year earlier, on May 5, 1991, the mutilated body of Peter S. Anderson, an investment broker from Philadelphia, was found wrapped in green plastic garbage bags along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The police determined that he, too, had been at the Townhouse before he was killed.
By the fall of 1993, two more bodies of gay men had been found: Mr. Marrero, 44, who often solicited men near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, according to court documents, and Michael Sakara, 55, a Philadelphia typesetter whose head and arms were placed in bags and left by Route 9W in Rockland County. His torso and legs were found wrapped in trash bags nine miles north, in Stony Point, N.Y. He frequented another gay bar downtown that Mr. Rogers was also known to visit.
Regulars at the Townhouse recalled that details of the slayings spread like gossip among gay men. The murderer became known as the "last call killer." The victims were drunk to the point of incapacitation when they were stabbed. For many, the image of body parts in trash bags proved indelible.
"It was horrible," said Abraham Levy, a Townhouse cocktail waiter in the early 90's, sitting at the bar on Saturday. "Every week there seemed to be another body."
The bags, however, held clues. Three or four prints were on the plastic that held Mr. Marrero's body and on another bag, a small plastic grocery sack labeled "Acme's President's Choice."
"We looked around and found out that the bags were in nine Acme stores, including one in Tuckerton, N.J., about three miles from where Mulcahy was found," said Mr. Heisler, the Ocean County prosecutor. "There was another one in Wrightstown and there was an Acme on Staten Island."
Staten Island looked especially promising, Mr. Heisler said, because a saw found in a bag with Mr. Mulcahy's wallet included a sticker from Pergament, a hardware chain with a location on Staten Island across the street from an Acme. Investigators hoped to find someone who lived nearby whose fingerprints matched those found on the bags, said Mr. Heisler, in a recent interview. But no local matches were found.
After the body of Mr. Sakara was found on July 31, 1993, investigators got a break: Lisa Hall, a bartender at the Five Oaks, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, told the police that Mr. Sakara had been drinking the night he disappeared with a man he introduced as Mark or John, a nurse from a St. Vincent's hospital. The police collected photographs of male nurses at several city hospitals and Ms. Hall thought she recognized Mr. Rogers.
But Ms. Hall never made a positive identification, and because Mr. Rogers worked at Mount Sinai Hospital, not a St. Vincent's hospital, the police moved on.
The case stayed cold until about 1999, when Margaret Mulcahy, Mr. Mulcahy's widow, called Lt. Matthew Kuehn of the New Jersey State Police for an update. The call prompted Lieutenant Kuehn to send the bags that had held the bodies of Mr. Mulcahy and Mr. Marrero to the Toronto Police Department, where officers were using a new technique to lift fingerprints from evidence.
"They start re-running the bags and they raise 33 prints mainly from the bag with Mulcahy's personal effects and the saw," Mr. Heisler, the prosecutor, said. "We ran them in New Jersey and got a latent hit; the Mulcahy and Marrero prints were from the same guy."
Lieutenant Kuehn sent out 51 packets in 2000 with the prints and an explanation of the case to authorities in every state and Puerto Rico, and asked them to check their databases for a match. In early 2001, nearly a decade after Mr. Mulcahy's body was found, "a call came in from Maine," Mr. Heisler said. "They said 'we got him.' "
Old records indicated that in 1973, when Mr. Rogers was a graduate student at the University of Maine in Orono, he had killed his housemate with a hammer. He claimed self-defense and was acquitted. But New Jersey authorities now had a name to match the prints: Richard Rogers Jr., the oldest of five children raised in Massachusetts and Florida.
On May 28, 2001, Mr. Rogers was arrested at Mount Sinai Hospital. When investigators searched his home at 62 Bridge Court on Staten Island, they found a bottle of Versed, a sedative that can be used as a date-rape drug, rug fibers consistent with those found with Mr. Mulcahy's body, and "several photographs of unknown men on which stab wounds had been drawn," according to court documents.
Prosecutors in Rockland County and Pennsylvania said this week that they had not decided whether to charge Mr. Rogers in the killings of Mr. Sakara or Mr. Anderson.
David Ruhnke, Mr. Rogers's lawyer, said that his client would appeal the murder convictions after his sentencing. "Mr. Rogers has always maintained that he was innocent of all these crimes," Mr. Ruhnke said, "and he still maintains that he is innocent."
At the Ocean County trial, Judge Citta allowed the prosecution team of Mr. Heisler and Hillary Bryce to present evidence from the murders of Mr. Sakara and Mr. Anderson to show what they considered a pattern. The jury deliberated for four hours and returned a guilty verdict. Mr. Heisler can only speculate on a motive. "Maybe something happened during sex or foreplay," he said, though he also noted that the bodies showed no sign of forced sex.
Mrs. Mulcahy, now 71, said she and her four children were still considering what to say, if anything, to Mr. Rogers in court."We find it very satisfying that it's nearing the end."
Richard W. Rogers Jr.
May 30, 2001
The Manhattan district attorney's office said nurse Richard Rogers, accused of murdering two men found dismembered on New Jersey highways, is fighting extradition from New York. Rogers is also under investigation for as dismemberment deaths of men last seen in Manhattan gay bars in the early 1990s. The murders, attributed to "The Last Call Killer," remain unsolved.
The dismemberment killings of at least two other men will probably be tied to Rogers, said Carl Locke, director of client services for the New York Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. Locke wondered whether links to more murders will be uncovered: "I can't believe that a man who was a serial killer and mutilated men would just stop."
Officers from the Ocean County prosecutor's office, the Pennsylvania State Police and Rockland (N.Y.) County prosecutor's office searched Rogers' condominium in Staten Island, N.Y., looking for hairs, blood stains and surgical toolsthat would link Rogers to more killings. Rogers, 50, was arrested at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, where he has worked for more than 20 years, and charged him with two murders, which took place in 1992 and 1993.
Remains of the victims were found in plastic bags. The break in the case came three weeks ago when fingerprints from the bags were matched with prints of Rogers in Maine, where he beat a manslaughter charge 27 years ago.
Rogers was 22 and a graduate student studying French at the University of Maine in 1973 when he became a suspect in the death of a Frederic A. Spencer, who lived in his apartment building in Orono. Spencer's body was found a few days after his death by two bicyclists riding along a deserted road near Old Town.
After his arrest, Rogers told police he caught Spencer in his apartment and that Spencer came at him with a hammer. He said he managed to get the hammer away and beat Spencer until he died. Six months later, Rogers was acquitted of manslaughter in Penobscot County Superior Court.
Another brush with the law came August 19, 1988, when Rogers was arrested on Staten Island and accused of drugging, binding and injuring a Manhattan man who visited his apartment a month earlier.
Rogers is now charged in the murders of Thomas R. Mulcahy, of Sudbury, Mass., and Anthony E. Marrero, of Manhattan. Ocean County Prosecutor E. David Millard said the two had been "meticulously dismembered with a knife and handsaw."
The killing of Michael Sakara, 56, of New York, was linked last year to the murders of Marrero and Mulcahy. Sakara's head and arms were found July 31, 1993, at a rest area known as "'The Lookout" off Route 9W in Haverstraw, N.Y., a day after he was last seen leaving a gay bar. His legs and torso were recovered August 8, 1993, about eight miles farther north on Route 9W.
Locke, of the gay rights group, said Rogers is probably responsible for the deaths of Sakara and Peter Stickney Anderson, 54, of Philadelphia, whose remains were found along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1991.
Man Charged In Dismemberment Slayings
A former nurse has been charged with the early 1990s dismemberment slayings of two men he had recently met in Manhattan.
Richard W. Rogers Jr., 51, was indicted by an Ocean County grand jury on two counts of murder and two counts of hindering apprehension, the county prosecutor announced Tuesday.
Authorities say he killed Thomas Mulcahy, 57, of Sudbury, Mass., dismembered his body, placed it in plastic garbage bags and dumped them along Route 72 in Woodland Township, Burlington County, and at a Garden State Parkway rest area in Stafford Township on July 10, 1992.
Mulcahy's head, torso and arms were left in Woodland, while the rest of his body was dumped into trash cans at the Stafford Forge rest area, where they were found by New Jersey Highway Authority workers emptying the trash cans.
Rogers is also charged with killing Anthony E. Marrero, 44, of New York, whose dismembered body was found May 10, 1993, on a dirt road in the Whiting section of Manchester Township.
Ocean County Prosecutor Thomas F. Kelaher said both victims were stabbed repeatedly. Mulcahy died from three stab wounds to the chest and abdomen, while Marrero was stabbed six times in the back.
Because of similarities in the deaths, as well as several other unsolved cases involving mutilated bodies found near highways in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, a multiagency task force was created to investigate. Kelaher could not say whether Rogers is a suspect in any other deaths.
Fingerprints lifted from the plastic bags containing the victims' remains were matched against a nationwide fingerprint database of criminal suspects, but no matches were found initially, Kelaher said.
Authorities resubmitted the prints to the nationwide Automated Fingerprint Identification System in April 2001. The next month, Maine State Police advised the task force that the fingerprints submitted from the dismemberment case matched those of Rogers, who had previously been arrested in Maine. Rogers was arrested in 1973 as a suspect in a homicide, but was later acquitted of manslaughter charges.
Maine had not been a member of the automated system when the prints were first submitted, Kelaher said.
"The fingerprints tied both victims together, and to Mr. Rogers," Kelaher said.
Two weeks later, Rogers was arrested by New York City police and taken to the Ocean County Jail, where he has been held ever since.
The prosecutor said Rogers had just met both victims shortly before they were killed, declining to speculate on the nature of their relationship. Mulcahy was last seen alive on July 8, 1992, at the Market Street Bar near the former site of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Marrero was last seen on May 4, 1993, near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.
Kelaher said the nearly two-year delay between Rogers' arrest and indictment was not unusual because investigators from various agencies had to compare evidence and run numerous tests.
"They had to get search warrants for his apartment and his locker at work," Kelaher said, declining to say whether any useful evidence was recovered from either location.
Kelaher said it is not immediately clear whether Rogers was familiar with Ocean County, or whether he purposely selected it to dump the bodies. But he said the county has occasionally been used by killers to dispose of bodies because it has many rural, sparsely populated areas where such activity is not likely to be witnessed.
At the time of his arrest, Rogers was living in Staten Island, N.Y., and had been employed as a registered nurse at Mount Sinai Medical Center for more than 20 years.
He is being held on $1 million bail. No arraignment date has yet been set.
Accused serial killer is offered plea deal
October 19, 2005
TOMS RIVER — The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office has given accused serial killer Richard Rogers a short opportunity to accept an offer that would afford him a chance of getting out of prison within 15 years if he admits to two murders in New Jersey and one in Pennsylvania.
Rogers on Tuesday did not immediately take the deal, and jury selection began for his trial on charges that he killed two men whose dismembered bodies were found at roadside locations in trash bags in New Jersey in the early 1990s.
Rogers, 55, of Staten Island, a former surgical nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, is set to stand trial before Superior Court Judge James N. Citta for the murders of Thomas Mulcahy, 57, a bisexual businessman from Sudbury, Mass., and Anthony Marrero, 44, a homosexual prostitute from Manhattan.
William J. Heisler, chief trial attorney in the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, offered to downgrade the two murder charges to aggravated manslaughter and said he would recommend concurrent, 30-year prison terms, with parole eligibility after serving 15 years, if Rogers would plead guilty.
Heisler said he was authorized by the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office in Pennsylvania to extend him an offer of 10 to 20 years in prison if he would plead guilty to third-degree murder in the killing of Peter S. Anderson, 54, a homosexual investment banker from Philadelphia whose mutilated body was found in a trash barrel at a rest area on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on May 5, 1991.
Heisler also said he was authorized by the Rockland County, N.Y., District Attorney's Office to relay that it would not charge Rogers in the murder of Michael Sakara if he pleaded guilty to the murders of Mulcahy, Marrero and Anderson.
The dismembered body of Sakara, 55, a typesetter from Manhattan, was discovered over a nine-day period in July and August of 1993 in garbage bags at two locations along Route 9W in Rockland County, N.Y.
Mulcahy's remains were found at two locations in New Jersey on July 10, 1992: at the state Department of Transportation's Red Lion Maintenance Yard at routes 70 and 206 in Woodland Township, Burlington County, and in trash barrels at the Stafford Forge Rest Area on the Garden State Parkway in Stafford, Ocean County.
Marrero's remains were found in bags on Crow Hill Road in Manchester, Ocean County, on May 10, 1993.
Heisler said if Rogers took the plea offer, prison terms for each of the three killings to which Rogers would be required to admit would run concurrent to one another.
Heisler would not comment afterward on why he made the plea offer to Rogers.
The judge told Rogers he would likely face 60 years in prison without parole if convicted of the two New Jersey murders. Citta also told Rogers that because he would be given credit for time he has already served in the Ocean County Jail awaiting trial since his arrest May 28, 2001, and that he would also be given commutation credits and credit for good behavior, he could be considered for parole as soon as 10 or 11 years from now.
Citta also told Rogers that based on evidence introduced at pretrial hearings last month, "In my view, the state is going to convince 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt that Richard Rogers is guilty of the murders of both of these individuals."
Citta reminded Rogers that the evidence includes his fingerprints on garbage bags containing the body parts of the two New Jersey victims and the victim in Pennsylvania, and testimony that Sakara was last seen alive with him. Citta added the evidence includes that the saw and saw blade believed to be used to dismember the bodies, as well as some of the plastic bags in which some body parts were packaged, were traced to a mall on Staten Island located close to Rogers' home.
When Citta was finished explaining the potential outcome of a trial, Rogers responded politely, "I appreciate the advice that you've given me. I will take it under consideration."
Jury selection for the trial began minutes later.
Heisler said Rogers has until completion of jury selection to accept the offer.
In addition to the murders of Mulcahy, Marrero, Anderson and Sakara, Rogers also is a suspect in the murder of Matthew John Pierro, 21, of Bloomfield, whose body was found in bushes off Interstate Highway 4 in Lake Mary, Fla., on April 10, 1982, with a bite mark that dentists said was made by Rogers. Rogers has only been charged with the New Jersey murders.
Gay Serial Killer Trial Begins
October 27, 2005
A male nurse charged with killing, dismembering and then dumping the bodies of two gay men is innocent his lawyer charged as the trial of Richard W. Rogers opened in Toms River.
In his opening address to the jury attorney David Ruhnke said that police arrested the wrong man and suggested that his client's fingerprints prove he did nothing more than carry bags in which mutilated body parts were found. Ruhnke said that other fingerprints were found on the bags as well.
"Start thinking to yourself, maybe there's more than one person, or maybe Mr. Rogers just carried the bags," Ruhnke told the jury. "They promised to prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt the man who sits here . . . is the killer. Maybe they don't have the right guy."
Assistant Prosecutor William Heisler disputed Ruhnke's theory, telling jurors the true killer sat before them in court.
Rogers is charged with the killings of Thomas Mulcahy and Anthony E. Marrero.
The dismembered body of Mulcahy, 57, found in 1992. Police say that Rogers killed the Sudbury, Mass. man, dismembered his body, placed pieces in garbage bags and dumped them along Route 72 and at a Garden State Parkway rest area.
The body parts of Marrero, a 44, New York man, were found May 10, 1993, on a road in Manchester Township.
Last month, the judge in the case ruled that the jury can also hear about the murders of gay men in two other states in which Rogers is implicated.
One of the murders was that of Michael Sakara, 55, of New York City.
Sakara's remains were found in plastic garbage bags in two locations in Rockland County, N.Y., nine days apart in the summer of 1993. His head and arms were found in one bag in Haverstraw, N.Y., his legs and torso in others in Stony Point, N.Y.
Prosecutors also will try to tie Rogers to the 1982 killing of Matthew J. Pierro in Lake Mary, Fla., while Rogers was in Florida to attend a college reunion.
Pierro was last seen leaving a gay bar in Orlando, Fla., on April 10, 1982 and turned up dead, stabbed in the heart and suffering extensive lacerations.
New Jersey police were stymied for almost a decade in finding a suspect in the two slayings in that state, even though they had fingerprints and other evidence.
Two years ago a 'cold file' law enforcement team resubmitted finger prints to a nationwide fingerprint database of criminal suspects and Rogers was identified.
He had been arrested in Maine early in the investigation but when the prints were originally submitted to the database a decade ago Maine was not part of the system and he was let go.
It was not his first brush with the law in Maine. He was arrested and stood trial in 1973 for the murder of his roommate, Frederick Spencer, who was struck on the head with a hammer, smothered with a plastic bag and dumped in a wooded area. Rogers claimed self-defense and was acquitted.
After the DNA evidence pointed to him he was arrested in New York City and taken to New Jersey where he has been in jail awaiting trial.
At the time of his arrest, Rogers was living in Staten Island and had been a registered nurse at Mount Sinai Medical Center for more than 20 years.
N.J. Murder Trial Continues For Former UMaine Student
October 28, 2005
TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- In New Jersey, testimony resumes Thursday in the trial of a former University of Maine student who is suspected of being a serial killer.
Richard Rogers is accused of murdering three men whose dismembered bodies were found in trash bags along roads in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Defense lawyers have told jurors that they should consider the possibility that someone else was involved and that Rogers only carried the trash bags.
Rogers is also suspected of killing a fourth man, though he has not been charged in that case.
In Maine, Rogers was found not guilty of beating his roommate to death with a hammer in 1973. In that case, he claimed he acted in self-defense.
Alleged serial killer shows strain on last day of trial
November 10, 2005
The accused "Last Call" serial killer seemed as though he were beginning to crack on the final day of his three-week trial in Ocean County, N.J.
Richard W. Rogers III wrung his hands, bounced his legs and grimaced at his attorney -- all in marked contrast to his previous composure -- as the lead investigator in the case testified yesterday.
A longtime Staten Islander, Rogers lived on Bridge Court in Fort Wadsworth, and worked as a pediatric nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan before his arrest on May 28, 2001.
He is on trial for the 1992 killing of Thomas R. Mulcahy, 58, of Sudbury, Mass., a computer salesman known to frequent gay bars during business trips, and the 1993 slaying of Anthony Marrero, 43, a reputed prostitute who worked the Port Authority Bus Terminal in 1993.
The case is being tried in New Jersey because the victims' mutilated bodies were found there.
Lt. Matthew Kuehn of the N.J. State Police testified yesterday that there was no evidence that Mulcahy or Marrero were killed on Staten Island.
A big break in the case came when the head and two arms of Michael Sakara of Manhattan were discovered July 31, 1993, off Route 9W in Haverstraw, N.Y., Kuehn testified. Sakara's legs and torso were found a week later, about eight miles north on Route 9W.
In previous testimony, bartender Lisa Hall placed Rogers with Sakara at the Five Oaks piano bar in the West Village early on July 30, 1993.
She said the man she recognized as Rogers came in the bar and sat next to Sakara, who introduced his new friend (allegedly Rogers) as Mark or John and said he was a nurse at St. Vincent's Hospital.
With that information, Kuehn went on the hunt and obtained employment photos of male nurses from area hospitals, including St. Vincent's in West Brighton and Mount Sinai.
Flipping through the stack of photos before the jury, Kuehn picked out Rogers and said he showed it to Ms. Hall in 1993; she immediately identified the man in the photo as the same man who was with Sakara the night he went missing.
Kuehn said he then cross-matched records of Rogers' work attendance at Mount Sinai, dating from 1979, and found that Rogers was off work on -- and immediately following -- the day that Mulcahy was last seen.
Rogers also was off on May 5 and 6, 1993. Marrero was last seen the night of May 4 or 5, 1993, and his body was discovered on May 10, 1993.
In the two other cases in which Rogers is a suspect but not charged -- Peter Anderson, whose body was found in Rapho Township, Pa., in 1991, the genitals cut off, and Sakara -- Rogers had time off on the relevant days, Kuehn testified.
Earlier testimony by forensics experts matched fingerprints found on bags containing the body parts of Mulcahy, Marrero and Anderson with those of Rogers.
David Ruhnke, Rogers' attorney, rebutted the scientific validity of the fingerprint identifications.
Ruhnke pointed out, as he has with other fingerprint experts throughout the trial, that fingerprint matches are known to have been wrong.
Specifically, Ruhnke used the example of the FBI's misidentification of attorney Brandon Mayfield of Portland, Ore., who was an initial suspect in the 2004 terrorist bombings in Madrid.
The FBI was forced to admit its blunder and apologize after learning that the prints in that case were those of an Algerian man.
Closing arguments and jury deliberations are expected to begin today.
Ex-nurse guilty in 2 dismemberment murders
November 11, 2005
TOMS RIVER -- A former nurse was found guilty of the dismemberment murders of two men whose body parts were dumped along New Jersey highways.
Richard W. Rogers Jr., 55, of Staten Island, N.Y., was convicted Thursday in state Superior Court of murdering Thomas Mulcahy, 56, a married bisexual businessman from Sudbury, Mass., and Anthony Marrero, 44, a gay prostitute from Manhattan.
Some of Mulcahy's dismembered parts were discovered in 1992 in Burlington County.
Rogers, who worked as a surgical nurse for 20 years at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, was also convicted of two counts of hindering his own apprehension by dismembering and disposing of the victims' bodies.
He faces up to life in prison with a minimum of 30 years without parole on each of the murder counts when he is sentenced Jan. 26. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.
Rogers' attorney, David Ruhnke, plans to appeal. He had argued that prosecutors charged the wrong person. He had also tried to convince the jury that it could not convict Rogers of the crimes because the state had not proved they occurred in New Jersey.
But Judge James Citta ruled the law allowed the jury to infer that because the bodies were found in New Jersey, the murders occurred in New Jersey.
Mulcahy was in New York on July 7, 1992 for a business meeting, and disappeared the following day. One of the last places he was seen was the Townhouse, a gay bar that Rogers was known to frequent.
Mulcahy's dismembered parts were discovered July 10, 1992, at a state Department of Transportation maintenance yard in Burlington County and in a trash barrel at the Stafford Forge Rest Area on the Garden State Parkway. Sixteen of Rogers' fingerprints were found on the bags containing Mulcahy's remains.
Marrero's dismembered body was found in plastic bags on May 10, 1993 near a road in Manchester. Two of Rogers' fingerprints and his palm print were on those bags.
The big break in the case came on May 28, 2001 when Maine authorities, who had recently gone online with an automated fingerprint identification system, matched Rogers' prints to those on the bags that contained Mulcahy and Marrero's dismembered remains.
His fingerprints were on file in Maine because he had been tried in November 1973 for the slaying of his graduate school roommate at the University of Maine, Frederick Spencer. Claiming self defense, Rogers was acquitted in that hammer-beating death.
Serial Gay Killer Sentenced
Staten Is. man will serve at least 65 years in two New Jersey murders; suspect in others
February 2, 2006
A New Jersey judge sentenced Richard W. Rogers, a gay man from Staten Island, to what is effectively a life sentence after he was found guilty in the 1992 killing of Thomas R. Mulcahy and the 1993 slaying of Anthony E. Marrero.
“It’s the maximum sentence that is permitted under New Jersey law for the crime that he was found guilty of,” William J. Heisler, the executive assistant prosecutor in the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, who handled the case, told Gay City News.
The verdict had come on November 10 after a four-week trial, but sentencing happened only last week.
On January 27, James N. Citta, the New Jersey Superior Court judge who presided over the case, gave Rogers a 30-years-to-life sentence for murder with another two-and-a-half year minimum for hindering apprehension in the Mulcahy slaying. Citta gave Rogers the same penalty in the Marrero killing.
The judge required that Rogers serve all four sentences consecutively. Rogers, 55, will have to serve a minimum of 65 years before he is eligible for parole.
The Associated Press reported that Citta called Rogers “an evil human being” and expressed the hope that he die “in some hole in some prison without ever having freedom again.” Citta concluded by saying, “That’s the judgment of this court... We’re done. Take him out of here,” the AP reported
The remains of the 57-year-old Mulcahy, a businessman from Sudbury, Massachusetts known to visit gay bars when in New York, were found in two locations in New Jersey as were the remains of the 44-year-old Marrero, also known to be gay. Both men had been carefully dismembered and wrapped in plastic bags. Rogers’ fingerprints were found on the bags holding the remains of both men.
The murder cases went unsolved until 2000 when a 14-member task force that included investigators from the New Jersey State Police, Ocean County, and New York’s Rockland County re-opened the case. New technology was used to identify the fingerprints on the plastic trash bags and matched against fingerprints from Rogers taken when he was tried but acquitted in Maine of the 1973 murder of 22-year-old Frederic Spencer.
Citta allowed the prosecution to present evidence during the trial on two out-of-state murders that Rogers was not charged with but for which he is a suspect, based on key similarities between those killings and the Mulcahy and Marrero slayings. The jury saw evidence in the killings of Michael Sakara, 55, whose remains were found in New York in 1993, and Peter Anderson, 54, whose body was found in Pennsylvania in 1991.
Citta did not allow evidence of the 1982 murder of Matthew John Pierro, 25, in Florida, to be introduced. Pierro was found with ligature marks on his neck, indicating he had been strangled, and multiple stab wounds to his body. Rogers is considered a prime suspect.
Sakara, but not Anderson, had been dismembered in a way that matched the Marrero and Mulcahy dismemberments. Rogers’ fingerprints were found on the bags that held Anderson’s body, but not on the bags that held Sakara’s remains. A witness saw Sakara and Rogers together in a Greenwich Village bar hours before Sakara’s body was found.
Police never determined where the Mulcahy and Marrero killings took place and that will be an issue for Rogers’ appeal, David A. Ruhnke, Rogers’ attorney, told the AP. In order to convict Rogers, the jury was required to make a finding of fact that the murders took place in New Jersey.
Ruhnke told Gay City News in an earlier interview that the evidence on the Sakara and Anderson killings would also be an issue on appeal. That evidence tended to represent Rogers as a serial killer. The concern was that the jury would convict him on that basis and not on the Mulcahy and Marrero evidence.
“I think that’s exactly the message that the evidence sent and that the jury received, “ Ruhnke told Gay City News. “I think that was an enormously prejudicial decision by the judge and whether he was legally correct in making it is going to one of the primary appellate issues.”
Ruhnke has already filed notice of appeal in the case.
“We expect that in every case where there is a conviction,” Heisler said. “It’s routine.”
The New York City gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project welcomed the sentence.
“This is kind of a completion of a long struggle for two of the victim’s families,” said Clarence Patton, executive director of the gay victims group. “We don’t want to pile on, but what we would like to see is some of these additional cases get adjudicated so those families can get some measure of closure.”