As Killer Faces Sentencing, His Motive Remains Elusive
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, an hour and a half 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 men, Thomas Mulcahy, 57, identified by prosecutors as a bisexual computer salesman, and Anthony Marrero, 44, identified as a male 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."