The Terrifying Ice Box Murders

On June 23, 1965. a pair of Houston police officers forced their way into elderly couple Fred and Edwina Rogers’ house after they failed to answer their phone calls for days. Upon entering the home, they found nothing amiss.

That was until they opened the refrigerator door and were greeted with a grisly discovery. In the refrigerator, the officers who were called in to do a simple wellness check found what appears to be several cuts of washed, unwrapped hog meat sitting on the shelves. They still did not think much of the unusual contents until they found the couple’s heads in the vegetable drawer!!

An article from the local newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-Times, published the next day, described the scene. “On all the shelves and in the freezer compartment were their dismembered bodies, cut in unwrapped, washed off pieces smaller than individual joints. The officers realized what they were dealing with after opening the crisper to find two human heads.”

Investigators later concluded that Edwina had been shot in the head, while Fred had been beaten to death with a hammer before both were dragged to the master bathroom, drained of blood, chopped into pieces, and placed in the fridge. “Whoever did this apparently took their time and knew what they were doing,” the medical examiner on the case told the Globe-Times. “The dismembering was a fairly neat job.”

By the next morning, police had focused on just one suspect — the couple’s son, 43-year-old Charles Rogers, a recluse who only communicated with his parents via notes slipped under his bedroom door and was rarely seen by neighbors. The house had been carefully cleaned, but blood was discovered on the keyhole of his bedroom door.

But the police didn’t get the chance to speak with Charles, who, despite a nationwide manhunt, was never seen or heard from again. He was declared legally dead in absentia in 1975.

With Charles, the number one suspect, being declared dead, the case remains open to this day. In 1997 a Houston couple, Hugh and Martha Gardenier began reinvestigating the Ice Box Murders, as they became known—even self-publishing an e-book on the subject. They believe they’ve figured out who did it, and they agree with the original investigators on the case, Charles, of course.

But what was Charles’ motive to dispense of his parents in such a grisly way? The Gardeniers say that Charles was physically and emotionally abused by his parents well into adulthood and that at the end of their lives, they were defrauding him by forging his signature on deeds of land that he owned. 

It was Charles who actually owned the house they all lived in, not his parents, and Edwina had apparently taken out loans on it and pocketed the money. According to the authors, after the murders, Charles escaped to Central America, where he later died.

But the fact that his body was never found and there is not, nor has there ever been any confirmation of his death, means that the murderer disappeared and was free to kill again – and that is what really makes this true crime one of the scariest murders of all time!

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