Murder Friends cordially invite you to their virtual campfire where Alanna and Anna talk about their favourite childhood halloween costumes (photos at the end of this post) and then we tell each other spooky stories!
1922. Imagine a beautiful farm in the Bavarian countyside, 70km north of Munich. Suddenly, the family maid quits after hearing strange noises in the house. You start finding newspapers from a far away city in the house that no one living there has bought. The house-keys keep going missing. You find footprints in the snow coming from the forest, to your home, but none leading back. You find a broken door in the farm’s machine room. A moustachioed man was noted staring at the farm. The father told people these weird happenings around the farm to friends but no further action was taken.
The new maid was dropped off by her sister on the afternoon of the 31 March. Later that evening, all six inhabitants of the farm were brutally murdered, the parents, their widowed daughter and two children, and the new maid.
The Police believed that the parents, daughter and her daughter were lured to the barn and murdered. The perpetrator (or perpetrators) then moved into the house, killed the maid and then killed the daughter’s son whilst he slept in his crib.
Due to the remoteness of the location and 1922 technology (or lack thereof) the bodies of the family were not found until four days later. A machinist came to the farm to repair some farm vehicles but didn’t see anyone. Later, when he reported how odd it was to people in the local town, a party of locals went to the farm and made the grisly discovery.
The Police were hampered in their investigations by the foot traffic through the crime scene. Those investigating potentially further destroyed evidence by taking action such as cooking in the kitchen. The Police however believed that the perpetrator(s) stayed in the home after the murders for a number of days as the animals were fed and bread and meat were missing from the pantry. A neighbour reported seeing smoke from the chimney, even after the Police had left…
What makes this story notorious, the heads of the victims were removed and sent to Munich so they could be examined as all the trauma was focussed on the heads of the victims. They were kept in the Justice Building in Munich but later were lost, perhaps lost in Allied bombing.
The farm was destroyed thereafter and uncovered the potential murder weapon. A shrine now lays on the plot. The case was closed in the 1950s as unsolved. There were inconsistencies in evidence and lack of photographic evidence. It’s widely believed that someone entered the home, stayed in the roof, and later came down and committed these atrocious murders.
Ice Box Murders
A walk through of the house eventually led them to the kitchen, where one of the patrolman Bullock was compelled to open the refrigerator after noticing food out on the counter. Inside, he saw what he believed was stacks of hog’s meat, until he opened the crisper only to find the heads of the home’s residents, Fred and Edwina Rogers. It was of course not hog’s meat, and instead the limbs and torsos of the residents.
On June 23rd, 1965, Houston Police attended a house to do a welfare check. Marvin Martin had earlier placed a call to police to check up on his aunt and uncle, Fred and Edwina Rogers, as he had not been able to reach them for several days. The two police officers knocked on the door and eventually kicked it in as they could not gain a response.
A subsequent autopsy and investigation led them to believe the following occurred:
Three days prior to the discovery of the bodies, Fred Rogers was attacked and killed by blows to the head with a claw hammer. His eyes had been gouged out. Edwina Rogers had been beaten and shot, execution style, in the head.The bodies were then dismembered in the upstairs bathroom by someone with at least some knowledge of anatomy. Their organs had been found in a nearby sewer as they had been flushed down the toilet. The house had been thoroughly cleaned and the only blood led to a bedroom where they discovered a bloody keyhole saw. The bedroom belonged to their son, Charles Rogers, and he was nowhere to be found.
Rogers was described as reclusive and reportedly communicated with his parents by way of notes slipped under the door. Neighbours were unaware that Rogers lived with his parents as he generally left the home before dawn and did not return until after dark.Rogers disappeared and was never found. He was declared dead in absentia in 1975 and remained the only suspect in the murders, which are still considered unsolved.
Charles Fedrick Rogers was born in 1921 to Fred and Edwina. Roger attended University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear physics. During World War II, he was a pilot in the United States Navy and also served in the Office of Naval Intelligence. After the war, he worked as a seismologist for Shell Oil for nine years. He abruptly quit his job in 1957 without giving an explanation.
The Police never really got anywhere with the investigation, but two forensic CPA’s from Houston started investigating the case. They began tracing the money and trying to piece together the Rogers lives.
Charles childhood was pretty grim. Full of alcohol, emotional and physical abuse from his parents. Charles was a loner, but he was extremely intelligent. They found that Charles owned his parent’s house and that his parents had been ripping him off by taking out loans against the house and keeping the money for themselves.
During their investigation, they realized Charles had escaped to Mexico, then to South America with the help of several friends. He worked as a geophysicist and they believe his friends always kept quiet about the crimes was because they made money from Charles or continued to make money even after.They also believe Rogers was eventually killed in Honduras over a coal mining dispute. If he was alive today, he would be nearly 100.
Hugh and Martha Gardinier have a novel called “The Ice Box Murders” if you would like further information.
Smiley Face Killer
A lot of people struggle with statistics and probability. Just because two things are happening at the same time in a group of statistics, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are connected or that they correlate. For example, whilst rainfall and windshield wiper use would correlate, finding a dead body in a river and there being a smiley face graffitied on the wall might not necessary correlate.
But for Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, retired and former NYPD detectives, and Lee Gilbertson, a criminal justice professor, there is a correlation between finding missing young, white, college-educated white men in rivers and finding such graffiti at the crime scene. Some might believe this is far fetched but Gannon, Duarte and Gilberston could have a compelling theory. Maybe a conspiracy theory.
They believe, since 2008, some 40 cases have been mislabeled as accidental or undetermined drownings and are actually murders. Since then, their database of potential victims and suspicious drownings has risen to 355 as they have added in additional psychical evidence.
The first thing they point to is decomposition. Some of the believed victims, were missing for long periods of time – some up to 40 days and yet when their bodies are found they have decomposition of only a few days. Gannon highlights lividity pattern (which is how blood settles in a dead body), lack of bloating and the presence of land insects which could indicate that the victims died on land, not in the water.
The detectives highlight how they found a common date-rape drug GHB in the systems of 99.9% of the victims. Interestingly, GHB isn’t often included in post-mortem toxicology tests. It is often the family of the victims requesting this test be undertaken by the coroner or samples sent to Gannon, Gilbertson and Duarte for them to test.
The outcome of this is that they believe this men are abducted, murdered and then placed in the water. They want these deaths to be reclassified as a homicides and their second priority is that they want to show there is a link between them and that is that there is often one of 13 symbols, including a smiley face, graffitied near the crime scenes.
There have obviously been rebuttals. The FBI note that it had “not developed any evidence to support links between these tragic deaths or any evidence substantiating the theory the these deaths are the work of serial killers” and “the vast majority of these instances appear to be alcohol-related drownings’.
We live in south east England, in Kent, and sadly see it every now and then, especially in the winter; young, intoxicated men falling into the cold river and sadly passing away.
According to the World Health Organisation, men are statistically more like to die or be hospitalised from drowning, and further men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours whether consuming alcohol or not.
There has been little physical evidence on the bodies that the cases are anything but accidental drownings – no blunt force trauma, no strangulation, no signs of torture – and further that ‘homicidal drowning’ is very, very rare. Further there is skepticism over the date-rape drug GBH – bodies as they decompose can alter test results, some people take GBH willingly (or maybe they thought was something else), and also that the testing done by the trio could have had issues. Dumping a body in water also doesn’t wash away all the evidence as is commonly believed. Dumping a body in cold water can actually preserve evidence such as wound patterns and its pretty easy now to lift latent fingerprints from the victims skin. The conviction of Wayne Williams, who we believe is responsible for the Atlanta Child Murders, was secured by blood and fibre evidence obtained from bodies he dumped in the river.
The smiley face graffiti being present is also being questioned. There are numerous photos of the smiley faces available and they are different in style, size, and timeframe (some painted a long time ago, some painted after the murders). Graffiti is omnipresent everywhere. It’s a common thing to graffiti too – like if you were going to graffiti something what would you pick? A dick, a name, a smiley face. The Centre for Homicide Research note in their 2010 research paper QUOTE “This cheery graffiti is a cynical slap at the police by the vandals”.
So, what do you think? Are these young, white, college educated men, falling and drowning in rivers or is there something more sinister at play? Is it an urban legend or are we just trying to make sense of tragedy by believing in a conspiracy theory?
We hope you enjoyed our Spooky Month Special! Tell us the story that creeps you out, show us your halloween costumes and
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinterkaifeck_murders
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Rogers_(murder_suspect)
Houstonian – https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2018/11/26/icebox-murdershttps://www.wunc.org/post/criminal-ice-box-murders
Rolling Stone – https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/smiley-face-murder-serial-killer-drowning-death-882042/
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smiley_face_murder_theory