FOUR MONTHS, FEW ANSWERS
CRAIGLEITH — The house is quiet now, the shades drawn. The blue bins are neatly stacked in front of a nearby shed.
The yellow police tape that ringed the Kitzbuhl Crescent property is long gone.
Oct. 6 marked four months since police officers discovered the bodies of Michael and Kathryn Rogers in the home on this quiet street near Blue Mountain Resort, west of Collingwood.
Officers were investigating a missing persons complaint filed by Michael’s employer, Blue Mountain Resorts, after he failed to show up for work three days in a row. Sources say his absence was uncharacteristic for Rogers, who was the resort’s manager of homeowner services.
For several days in early June, officers with the OPP’s forensics unit, dressed in blue coveralls and wearing facemasks, were in and out, scouring the home for clues.
However, the house would not give up its secrets. Two days after the couple’s bodies were found, Michael’s younger brother, Adam, was killed instantly in a collision on Hwy. 26 near Edenvale, west of Barrie, after his vehicle crossed the centreline into the path of an oncoming transport truck.
As part of that investigation, the OPP subsequently searched Adam Rogers’ Barrie home, and his locker at Alliston’s Honda plant, where he worked as a contract employee. The reasoning behind those search warrants have been sealed by the courts.
The OPP have released few details, though the lead investigator on the case, Dep. Insp. Shawn Glassford, says he’s hopeful for a resolution.“I have complete confidence that our investigative questions will all soon be answered,” said Glassford, who has served with the OPP’s Criminal Investigation Branch for four years, and has investigated homicide cases across the province. “Our dedicated team of investigators are continuing to work through various investigative assignments that will one day conclusively help in bringing closure to this incident.
“As with any investigation, this case has unique challenges — but each case is unique in its own way.”
In August, the OPP’s underwater search and recovery unit were back in the area as part of the investigation. Glassford said while the OPP is no longer searching bodies of water in the area, the unit may be called in again should new information arise.
“The OPP has from the outset of this investigation assembled a dedicated and committed team of investigators,” said Glassford. “It is fair to say that those assigned to the investigation are continuing to work on finding the answers to our questions that form the ongoing investigation.”
Glassford would not comment on a recent story in a national newspaper that included speculation on how the couple died.
The Rogers family say they are still struggling with grief.
“Even now, four months later, it’s difficult to quiet your mind,” immediate family members recently wrote in response to a series of questions presented to them by the Enterprise-Bulletin. “The news of their deaths was devastating and completely overwhelming.
“Nothing can prepare you for this type of loss. Nothing makes sense. We were shocked because their deaths were so sudden and were so completely inconsistent with who they were and how they lived their lives.”
Both families — the Rogers clan, and Kathryn’s family, the Wilsons — have been reticent to speak with the media; indeed, the Wilsons politely declined to correspond with the Enterprise-Bulletin.
Paul McDonald, a close family friend who has acted on behalf of the family in dealing with reporters, and has been part of police briefings with family members, said the family’s hesitation in responding to media inquiries is well-founded; in some cases, members of the media have been quite intrusive — going as far as to show up to one family member’s home unannounced and peer in the window.
“I can say with certainty that no one should have to deal with what the Rogers family has gone through,” he said. “This is a good, kind, caring family. They have handled an unimaginably horrible, confusing series of events with enormous grace, courage, class, and honesty.
“I doubt few people would have risen to the challenge in the same constructive, open, honest way that the Rogers have.”
McDonald — and family members — say one of the toughest aspects to deal with, aside from the deaths of their family members, has been the speculation that one brother, Adam, may be responsible for the Michael and Kathryn’s murders.
That’s been fuelled in part by the circumstances surrounding Adam’s death, and a lawsuit he filed against Michael in early 2011 over a business deal.
According to court documents obtained by the Enterprise-Bulletin, in April of that year, Adam Rogers filed a $200,000 claim in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, for the proceeds of an investment he had in a business venture with Michael and their father, Dean. Adam also claimed an additional $200,000 for breach of contract, and $75,000 in punitive damages.
The lawsuit never proceeded, and the claims were never proven in a court of law.
In a statement of defence, Michael Rogers denied the allegations, stating his younger brother was only entitled to $20,000 — his original investment in a medical services company owned by another family member — which was repaid to Adam in cash in 2008. The statement of defence also alleges the relationship between the brothers “deteriorated significantly,” though it’s not clear in the statement whether that deterioration was the result of the business deal.
Sources close to the family, however, say the statement isn’t a fair characterization of the personal relationship between the brothers, and inconsistent of what the family observed — including interactions between the two only months before their deaths.
McDonald acknowledged that the rumours of a link between the brothers’ deaths has been “hurtful,” as acquaintances and complete strangers have “brashly approached the family to ask if one brother killed the other.
“The family (has taken) solace (that) the OPP said the cases of each brother were being treated as separate,” said McDonald.
Glassford said the OPP has only confirmed the surnames of the victims of the homicide and the fatality are the same.
“These matters are continuing to be investigated independently,” he said, adding the crash remains under investigation by the Central Region OPP’s technical traffic collision team, and a final report is not yet complete.
Immediate family say the rumours of a link has only made them “hungrier for answers.
“We desperately want to know what happened and why, no matter how difficult it may be to hear,” they stated. “So far, we have no answers. There has been a proliferation of rumours, speculation and innuendo, but few hard facts and little certainty.”
OPP officers involved in the investigation, say the family, have been very kind, and in return, the family has tried to co-operate with the investigation as fully as they can.
“Since the investigation is ongoing the police aren’t in a position to share much of what they’ve learned,” says the family. “It’s really hard to let the process unfold but we also realize that asking the police to rush or share information prematurely may be counterproductive.
“Naturally, we’d like resolution as quickly as possible. We also realize that sometimes investigations takes years to unfold, and in some cases, never reach a conclusion.”
After their first visit from police officers, the family had the difficult responsibility of contacting other family members with the news; every phone call brought the same questions — questions they couldn’t answer because police were only able to provide the most basic details.
McDonald said it’s been difficult for the family to recover from the tragedy — not only in dealing with the grief, but also the estate issues, itself complicated by the fact Michael was the trustee for his father’s estate. Dean Rogers died in February, 2010.
“The fear, uncertainty, and anxiety has taken a toll on their sleep, diet, and regular patterns,” said McDonald.
“Sometimes the simplest of things remind you of a treasured expression, a gesture, or shared activity that you will never have the chance to share with them again,” says the family. “Every now and again you have an urge to call them and share a piece of news — but then you realize there isn’t anyone there to pick up the phone.
“Every news story, every new unsubstantiated rumour reminds you of how the lives of some truly special people came to a premature and violent end.”http://www.theenterprisebulletin.com/2012/10/17/four-months-few-answers