The Tex Files: Icebox Murders - Dallas News |

The Tex Files: Icebox Murders


Original Air Date: Monday, Feb. 05, 2001

June 23, 1965: Houston patrolmen asked to check up on an elderly couple find a house on Driscoll Street empty. But almost as an after thought, they check the kitchen.

"Opened up a refrigerator and seen nothing but meat stacked in it. My partner standing next to me made the comment that it looked like somebody had butchered a hog," Charles Bullock said. "We didn't know it was a body until we got ready to close the refrigerator and we could see the head down in the bottom of the vegetable bin."

Two bodies in the icebox -- 81-year-old Fred Rogers and his 79-year-old wife, Edwina. But the third resident of the house, their 43-year-old son Charles Rogers (then and now the only suspect) was gone.

"I've never been able to understand how someone could commit an act like this and then disappear off the face of the earth," Houston investigator Hugh Gardenier said.

Investigators concluded the murders actually happened the Sunday before on Father's Day. Edwina had been savagely beaten and shot execution style. Fred's head had been crushed with a hammer, his eyes had been gouged out and he had been emasculated. The man's internal organs were flushed down a sewer.

However, it's more than grisly detail that makes it one of the most notorious crimes in Texas history. It's the shadowy character of Charles Rogers, whose keen mind and alleged government connections, still baffle and intrigue.

"There's a wide range of theories … from satanic possession to evil government agencies," lead investigator Sgt. Jim Binford said.

The evil government agency theory bloomed in the early 90s with a book called "The Man on the Grassy Knoll."

"Charles Rogers was a covert agent of the CIA. He was recruited in 1956 here in Houston. At first as a contract agent, then when he resigned from Shell oil he became a full time operative in Latin American activities, author Phillp Rogers said. "The motive for killing his parents was to silence them because we believe his mother, at least, found out that he'd been involved in the conspiracy to assassinate the president a year-and-a-half before."

Most serious Kennedy scholars consider Phillips' book absolute baloney. It claims Rogers was one of the so-called well dressed tramps picked up on the day of the assassination and released. But arrest records weren't found until 1992 and the three tramps identified -- Charles Rogers was not one of them.

"We've never found any evidence -- anything at all -- that would substantiate Charles Rogers being involved with the CIA," Gardenier said.

For years Gardenier and fellow investigator Martha Hughes have tracked the real Charles Rogers.

"He was very smart," Hughes said.

By all accounts, Rogers was a brilliant geologist with a knack for finding gas and oil, and gold. He was a pilot who spoke seven languages and probably fled to Mexico, and Central America.

"He had very powerful friends," said Gardenier.

"He brought in mines, he brought in the wells for people and they continued to make money. So, they were not going to give him up," Hughes said. "Some of the people he ran with in the late 50s and 60s were contract workers for the CIA."

A.M. Van Fossen -- a legend in treasure hunting circles and known widely as "Gold Dust Ernie" had mutual friends with Charles Rogers.

"Charles Rogers was a ham operator here in Houston and, of course, he was down in Mexico, and South and Central America … so he talked with a lot of people he had connections with," Van Fossen said.

He found Rogers' ham radio plate after the Rogers house was torn down. He's fairly certain Rogers and others he ran with did have CIA connections.

"Not in a permanent position. They would be going some place and they would be contacted," Van Fossen said.

There's no shortage of unanswered questions but they all begin with why the parents were murdered in the way they were.

"Years and years of frustration, and abuse," Hughes said.

Hughes and Gardenier claim that Fred Rogers, a bookie by trade, abused Charles as a child and stole from him as an adult -- forging his name to sell two lots while Charles was out of the country.

"He had been swindled out of massive amounts of money by his parents," Gardenier said.

"Everybody that I know that knew the mother and father said they were devious con artists," Van Fossen said.

"Everything we've uncovered indicates he actually plotted this crime, probably for years," Gardenier said.

"He was an angry man who never broke the umbrella of his parents, apparently until this event," Sgt. Jim Binford said.

Some believe Charles Rogers was murdered in the late 90s in Honduras by men working for him at a gold mine. But officially, Houston cops are still looking for him.

"Whether or not he killed his parents or didn't kill them, we'd like to know: "Where ya' been and what ya' been doing?" Sgt. Binford said.

Following the murders, 1815 Driscoll St. remained unoccupied. The house was empty until 1972, when it was torn down and left a vacant lot. Condominiums were put up in its place in the summer of 2000.

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