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Hiding In Plain Sight: Cops Finally Apprehend a Killer, Now 82 and Ailing, Who'd Been on the Lam for 22 Years

Richard Rodgers in an ID shot from 1987 and a police mug shot in 2009, after 22 years on the lam.

A bailiff in a beige uniform opens the door next to the courtroom's inmate-seating area, which is empty for the moment. It's Monday at the Maricopa County Superior Court, and the inmate galley begins to fill up for the morning's hearings.

"It might be easier to get him through this way," says someone from the hallway beyond the door.

Finally, an old man in a wheelchair rolls through the doorway, pushed by another inmate.

Like the much younger defendants shuffling through the door in chains, the elderly man wears a striped jail uniform over a pink, long-sleeve undershirt. He has thick and long-ish white-gray hair and two or three inches of white beard. He twists in the chair to thank the inmate who helped him, then looks to the visitors' section, smiles, and waves. His daughter, Connie Watkins, a heavyset, middle-age woman in a pantsuit, waves back.

Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner James Rummage takes his seat on the bench, then does a double take when he looks at the number of the first case before him. The case number includes the year of the alleged offense. Rummage stumbles: "I'm sorry, CR 1987?"

The date of the crime and age of the defendant aren't the only weird things about the hearing: The old man's lawyer claims authorities have the wrong man in custody. The 23-year-old case names Roger Cook as the defendant, but the inmate says he's Richard Earl Rodgers Sr.

"That's the name I was born with," the man tells the judge in a strong voice.

Yet if the man in the wheelchair is Richard Rodgers, then where is Roger Cook, the nasty guy who gunned down an unarmed young stranger those many years ago at a downtown Phoenix apartment complex? The case wasn't a whodunit: Witnesses back then all agreed that Cook had leaned over a second-floor balcony and fired his .357 Magnum at 23-year-old Terance Keenan, who had done nothing but taunt him from a parking lot below.

Cook was arrested at the time but disappeared soon after a judge released him on an unsecured bond.

Watkins whispers to a reporter seated on the bench next to her that Rodgers couldn't possibly have committed the crime.

"He wasn't living here in 1987. He was in Long Beach," she says. "He had heart surgery in 1989. This is a case of mistaken identity and abuse of an elderly person."

She's in town from California, where she'd been living to be near her aging father. Now she's doing whatever she can to help him during his incarceration. Her brother, Thomas Rodgers, uses his blog to repeat the claim that their father is falsely accused.

A big man with the face of a boxer and a scar on his nose, Rodgers grew up during the Great Depression, joined the Navy in the late 1940s, and worked as a truck driver for 50 years. He lived and worked in Phoenix for at least 11 years and has been retired in Long Beach for more than 20, spending the past 15 in the same senior-living apartment.

In August, authorities rousted Rodgers from his home and checked the semi-ambulatory old man into a medical ward at the local jail. Three months later, he was placed on a private flight (at taxpayer expense) and found himself booked into another medical unit, this time in the Maricopa County jail.

The retiree had been living on a fixed income and couldn't afford a lawyer, so his case was assigned to John Curry, a public defender. Curry was, in fact, the same public defender who handled the Cook case two decades ago, when he was fresh out of law school. An experienced lawyer now, he tells Commissioner Rummage that he doesn't recognize anyone in the courtroom from 1987.

"We're not sure why the state thinks he's Roger Cook," Curry says.

The prosecutor, Deputy County Attorney Bernita Clark, says she can't immediately provide proof of the man's identity.

But that's okay with Rummage, who isn't buying the mistaken-identity angle. Rummage acts as though the defendant's true name is a moot point. And it is a moot point, except as a Hail Mary defense tactic.

Rodgers admitted before his 2009 arrest that he was the man in the 1987 booking photo, according to a report published by police weeks earlier. Fingerprint evidence confirmed it, even if Clark didn't have the documents in front of her at the hearing.

Curry, Watkins, and Thomas Rodgers are just doing what comes naturally for defense lawyers and kin — covering for the old guy, hoping they'll get away with it.

Fact was, cops knew in June 2009 that they had their man. Their dilemma centered on what to do with him.

Rodgers was 81 at the time. He used a motorized scooter to get around, received treatments at a California Veterans Affairs hospital for various ailments, including congestive heart failure. He took handfuls of medications daily. Ultimately, it was decided to take him back to Maricopa County.

 

Rodgers spends much of the January hearing with his chin resting near his chest, appearing alternately lucid and confused by the legal bantering.

Rummage declares that things will proceed for the time being without confirmation of the defendant's identity. He affirms a $1 million bond, ensuring that Rodgers won't have a second chance to slip away.

A prosecution that began when Ronald Reagan was president is back on track.


No serious question remains about Rodgers' identity or his role in the shooting of Terance Keenan. He pleaded guilty in August to one count of manslaughter. In a sentencing hearing scheduled for October 7 (publication day for this story), he could receive anything from probation to 10 years in prison.

But, in a sense, Rodgers has gotten away with killing Terry Keenan. Justice, unlike revenge, isn't best served cold.

The success of capturing Rodgers is overshadowed by the passage of so much time — and by the many snafus that led to his release from jail after the shooting:

The Phoenix Police Department didn't verify Rodgers' ID; neither did the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which had Rodgers indicted for manslaughter.

A fingerprint check didn't work. The FBI didn't realize that it had two fingerprint files — Roger Cook and Richard Rodgers — for the same guy. The agency didn't merge the files until 2009.

Without knowing the suspect's true identity, former Superior Court Judge Philip Marquardt allowed Rodgers to leave jail a few weeks after the shooting, inexplicably defying the advice of court staff who recommended a high bond amount. Marquardt later became the poster boy for judicial reform after his 1988 and 1991 arrests for marijuana possession ("Judge's Transgressions," March 27, 2008). After Rodgers went missing, neither Phoenix police nor the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office — the official keeper of outstanding warrants — bothered to look for him.

The killer lived his best retirement years in ease. Now he's suffering from dementia, his lawyer claims. The person who killed Keenan nearly a quarter-century ago may not be the same man, mentally.

Assuming Rodgers receives something in the mid-range of sentencing options — say, five years in prison — Arizona taxpayers will fund a good deal of Rodgers' medical care for what probably will be the final months or years of a long life.

If the process benefits anyone, it's the victim's family.

For 22 years, they were tormented by the knowledge that Keenan's killer lived free. The lack of response by authorities festered in Keenan's younger brothers, Sean and Kevin, who bugged cops over the years — in vain — to do something.

"Has it altered my life? You better bet it has," Kevin Reiser, Keenan's youngest brother, says of Rodgers' overly long status as a fugitive. "It eats me up daily."

At every holiday and every family get-together, the subject of Terry Keenan's fugitive killer dominated conversation. In a bitter twist of fate, the middle brother, Sean, died of cancer two weeks before the family found out that Rodgers had been arrested.

Reiser (who took the name of his adoptive father) worries that police didn't work as diligently as possible on the case because they thought his brother was a loser. He may have a point.

When Terry Keenan moved to Phoenix from the Detroit area in the spring of 1987, looking for work as a truck mechanic, he'd already been busted once for DUI. He had long hair and bad teeth. He should have been home with his wife and kids on the night he was killed.

Still, Rodgers deprived Keenan's 5-year-old daughter and three stepchildren of their dad, forever. And Keenan's aging mother, Verda Kazman, lost her first-born son.

Kazman, of Warren, Michigan, hopes that seeing Rodgers die in prison will ease her pain, at least a little. And she wants to be a source of encouragement for other parents of murdered children, especially those whose cases are unsolved.

Yet the justice system played another cruel trick on Kazman, even as her long nightmare draws to a type of conclusion:

She lost nearly a week's pay and several hundred dollars for an airplane ticket when she flew out for a scheduled sentencing hearing for Rodgers in early September, only to see the court session delayed until October 7. (She bought another ticket and plans to be here on that day.)

Police consider the capture of Rodgers a success story — sort of.

"We can't take back those [22] years, but we can serve justice, as cliché as that sounds," says Troy Hillman, the sergeant who helps oversee Phoenix's cold-case unit. "It also sends a strong message in those unsolved cases out there [that], one of these days, we're going to be coming for you, too."

 

One of these days, indeed. Rodgers was proverbial low-hanging fruit whom authorities didn't get serious about picking until last year.


The late-summer night has cooled off a little, and Rick Fair has the doors and windows open at his Phoenix home near 83rd Avenue and Indian School Road. The garage door's open, too, and Fair, 50, sits in a chair in front of the brightly lit space, chatting about the past. He's a little tipsy. He's wearing a T-shirt and blue jeans, with light-colored hair cut as short as he might have worn it during his six-year stint in the Marine Corps.

The garage and driveway are crowded with a boat, flatbed trailer, dirt bikes, and ATVs. Fair's brown Jeep sits in the gravel front yard next to a weathered Ford pickup.

Fair has agreed to talk about one of the darker moments of his life, and the conversation clearly stirs up his emotions. He becomes intensely animated during the retelling of the shooting, running across the quiet street in front of his home, hopping to crouch behind a pickup truck and then half-running, half-crawling for "cover" — just as he did two decades ago.

Fair's version of the tale isn't quite as detailed, or as accurate, as the one he gave in a 1987 police report. For this article, New Times relied on court and police documents, as well as interviews with Fair and other people involved in the case.

The killing occurred at a tiny apartment complex called Sundale Manor at 617 North Third Avenue in Phoenix, a rectangular building next to a sprawling parking lot just across the street from the Salvation Army's Phoenix Citadel. Sundale's windows are boarded up now, the parking lot empty. The tall gates guarding the inner courtyard — now overgrown with weeds — played a central role in the events of October 20, 1987.

On the day Terry Keenan died, he was 23 years old and already had plenty of life experience — not a lot of it good.

Before he reached puberty growing up in Warren, west of Detroit, his mom had split with his alcoholic dad. He had a child when he was 18 with Peggy LaChapelle, a woman he considered his common-law wife; she had three kids from a previous relationship. Keenan and LaChapelle fled Michigan at a time when domestic auto sales were seeing big declines, plunging the state's economy into despair. Phoenix, on the other hand, was a growing city with lots of good jobs — at least, that's what Keenan had heard.

In July 1987, the couple moved into an apartment in a lower-income neighborhood near Camelback Road and Interstate 17, hoping for employment and a new path in life. Not that Keenan was trying too hard on the career front. He struck up a friendship with a fellow partier who lived in the complex, Robert Harris, who introduced Keenan to Fair.

On the afternoon of October 20, the three drinking buddies decided to scrape up some cash for booze by collecting cardboard boxes from supermarket dumpsters and taking them to a recycler. By evening, they'd earned enough to buy a couple of six-packs of Bud, some Cuervo, and a bottle of Black Velvet whiskey.

Rodgers, who didn't know the men, had been stewing for hours that same evening over a missing lock on one of the gates at Sundale, where he lived.

The off-Central neighborhood can be daunting at night, even now, but the area was far sketchier in '87. It would be another year before a billion-dollar city bond election began funding nearby projects — the Burton Barr Central Library, the Arizona Science Center, and the Phoenix Art Museum — that helped gentrify downtown Phoenix.

Sundale Manor was the type of place where management glued X-Acto blades on top of the security fences to keep transients and thieves from hopping over. Steve Humphries, a former manager at Sundale, would later tell police that he and Rodgers (whom he'd known for about five years as Roger Cook) habitually used their firearms to scare off intruders who had climbed the fences.

Rodgers called Humphries that afternoon to complain about the manager who had replaced Humphries. Rodgers was "paranoid" about security, in general, and he was upset that the new manager had failed to replace the lock removed from a gate in one of the security fences for repair, according to Humphries. Rodgers "was talking sort of out of his head," Humphries told police.

About 7:30 p.m., Rodgers called back to let Humphries know that the lock had been re-installed. "However, [he] was still upset that had taken so long to do so," Humphries related.

For sure, Robert Harris and Rick Fair picked the wrong night to climb up a security gate onto the second-floor walkway of the apartment complex.

 


Fair, then a mostly unemployed 27-year-old day laborer, told police that he drove Harris and Keenan to Sundale in his black Ford pickup at the request of Harris, who wanted to visit a woman he knew. All three had been drinking for hours.

Fair and Harris scampered up to the second floor with some cans of beer and knocked on a door while Keenan stayed in the parking lot outside the gates.

There was no answer at the door — and the apartment appeared vacant. The woman they'd been looking for apparently had moved out. At that moment, the shenanigans almost could have been a scene from a low-budget version of The Hangover. (If the men had been there for some nefarious purpose — say, to steal something — there's no hint of it in the police report.)

Fair prepared to climb down onto the lower security fence at ground level. He threw a leg over the short balcony fence. Just then, Rodgers appeared from the apartment next to the balcony wearing only blue shorts, yelling and cussing at him. The shirtless Rodgers held up a large stainless-steel revolver. Startled, Fair turned stuntman and hopped off the second-floor balcony straight onto the ground.

Neighbor Lee Sinclair, then 65, recalled opening his door to find out what was going on and seeing an "Indian male" (Harris) walking by at a fast pace, saying something about a "crazy son of a bitch." Sinclair told Harris that if he was speaking of his neighbor, Roger Cook, "Yes, Roger's crazy and he [has] a gun." He told the trespasser to take off.

A minute later, Sinclair heard shouting from the parking lot. Sinclair went to his bathroom, stood on the toilet, and poked his head out the window just enough to see the scene below. He could hear clearly the two young men yelling at Rodgers, one with a dark baseball hat over dark hair, the other with blond hair.

Fair and Harris had dropped some of the alcohol in their rush to leave. Sinclair reported that Fair and Keenan were cussing at Rodgers and shouting that they "wanted their beer back."

A woman watching the commotion from her sixth-floor apartment two blocks away saw the man without the shirt brandishing his gun on the balcony. She could make out Rodgers' words as he yelled back at the men in the parking lot: "I'm gonna blow your fucking head off!"

The man with the white T-shirt and dark hair, who turned out to be Terry Keenan, pointed at his forehead and yelled to Rodgers, "I've looked through the barrel of a gun before so go ahead. Shoot me! Shoot me right here!"

Sinclair reported that Keenan repeated the words "shoot me" a number of times. He then saw Keenan raise his arms, palms up, just before the first of two gunshots roared.

Fair doesn't remember it that way. He says Keenan was "begging" Rodgers not to point the gun at him.

Rodgers "bent over the rail with one hand. Pow, he shot him. I saw the flame come out of the barrel," Fair told an officer in 1987.

The .357 slug tore into Keenan's shoulder at the base of his neck, nearly grazed his heart, and lodged into his spine. He collapsed to the ground, yelling, "I'm shot! I can't move!"

Fair ran for shelter as Rodgers fired again.

"I felt a round come really close to the right side of my head," he says, putting a hand to his buzz-cut. "It went over the top of my head and hit the ground. It made a smacking sound."

Harris appeared, having climbed down the fence on the opposite side of the complex. The gunman retreated to his apartment, and the men went to their wounded friend. Keenan was silent now, spurting blood from his severe neck wound.

"I used Robert's shirt and put hand-pressure on it," Fair says. "I got angry [at Rodgers]. I was pissed that he shot at me."

The rest of the night was a blur for Fair. He knew the man with the gun had been arrested. And he recalls talking to Keenan's girlfriend: "She was devastated."

Fair had no further involvement with the case. He says he figured the cops and court system had taken care of his friend's killer. He found out the truth earlier this year, when a prosecutor called to tell him that Rodgers had been captured, inquiring whether he'd be interested in testifying in court.

He would have helped with the trial, Fair says, if Rodgers hadn't pleaded guilty.

Yet Fair, waxing philosophical, says he's no longer surprised by horror stories about the justice system. He's got his own problems.

 

He's going through a rough patch: DUI, lost job, underwater on his mortgage, and about to lose his house. He relates with mischievous glee how he gave grief to the cop who busted him for driving just over the legal alcohol limit, then gushes that he knows he messed up.

"I go through the motions. I do what I think is right. I try," he says. "But my family has a little black cloud about this law stuff. We all try. But you become numb to things."

He's not sure whether Rodgers should receive prison time at this late stage.

"I don't know. I want to say yes, but . . ." His voice trails off. He rambles on about how he's a very strong conservative on some issues, yet liberal on others. He asks about the date of Rodgers' sentencing hearing, saying he may attend.


As Terry Keenan was loaded onto an ambulance, soon to be pronounced dead, police rushed Rodgers' apartment.

Rodgers opened his door before the police kicked it in. Thrown into a cop car, he complained that his cuffs were too tight and that he'd be willing to talk about the crime if they were loosened.

"Suspect then stated, 'I put the gun down, didn't I? I could have shot the rest of you motherfuckers,'" the report reads. "'I could have shot you, or two or three other cops — but I didn't. You guys are wrong. You've violated my rights — fuck you in the ass . . . I ain't telling you nothing.'"

Everyone at Sundale knew Rodgers as Roger Cook, and that's the name he gave to police — along with a false birth date and a bogus Social Security number.

Police didn't verify the information.

Cook's fingerprints were submitted to the FBI — but the federal system wasn't as exact in 1987 as it is now, says Phoenix police Detective Mark Armistead. The FBI created a new file for Roger Cook.

Yet Rodgers already had an FBI file under his real name because of a previous conviction. Armistead says he never discovered why Rodgers changed his name a few years before the shooting. It's not as though Rodgers had outstanding warrants (before 1987) or a long rap sheet from which he was hiding.

Rodgers had been arrested in 1959 and convicted of misdemeanor assault. Cops arrested him again in 1974 for an unspecified "violent offense" but never charged him, according to his pre-sentence report. Police declined to comment on the latter case, citing confidentiality laws.

A week after the slaying, while he was in jail, Rodgers was indicted by a grand jury for manslaughter, type two: "Committing second-degree murder . . . upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation by the victim."

His bond was set at $68,500. John Curry, his public defender, filed two motions asking that Rodgers be released into the custody of two elderly friends. The motions were denied.

"The defendant, by his large bulk, aggressive nature, and independent ways, will go where he wants, when he wants, no matter [whether friends] say otherwise," Deputy County Attorney Noel Levy Jr. wrote in his response to the second motion. "Thus, a third-party release is unrealistic."

Curry filed a third motion in mid-November 1987. On November 20, the county's Pre-Trial Services Department recommended to the judge in the case, Phillip Marquardt, that the defendant be released only with a secured bond — meaning it had to be backed with collateral, such as a house mortgage.

Marquardt ignored the recommendation and, on December 1, ordered the man released on a $1,000 unsecured bond, which he could pay over time. Rodgers made two payments of $50 each and went to one court hearing.

He failed to show up for another hearing on February 9, causing the judge to issue a bench warrant.

The former judge and retired ski instructor, now in his 70s, couldn't explain his 1987 decision when reached last month at his Carefree home. Marquardt has no memory of the case, one of tens of thousands he handled in his career.

But he could scarcely believe he allowed a manslaughter suspect to walk out of jail on his own recognizance: "Knowing who I was at the time, I'm surprised that it happened."

Despite Marquardt's pot use, he was no flaming liberal. He had a reputation as a fair if somewhat harsh judge — as evidenced by the time he sentenced two men to death on the same day.

Could his use of marijuana have influenced his decision concerning Rodgers? Marquardt says he doesn't think so.

Yet after Marquardt's 1991 arrest for having pot mailed to him, he admitted he'd smoked throughout the 1980s (though he claimed he was never high on the bench). The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2001 that Marquardt's addiction may have improperly influenced a death-penalty case.

 

Whatever the reason for Marquardt's unexpected leniency, Rodgers took advantage by high-tailing it out of Arizona. After Marquardt issued a warrant for Cook's arrest, police soon realized the name Roger Cook was a dead end.

But it didn't have to be — local police had the suspect's fingerprints in their records.

Sergeant Troy Hillman and Detective Mark Armistead of the cold-case squad can't be blamed for the foul-ups. For them, finding Rodgers is one of their biggest successes. Armistead, a fugitive tracker, says the Rodgers case was one of several breakthroughs Phoenix police made within a three-month period last year. Rodgers was one of two homicide suspects caught who had 22-year-old warrants; another had been wanted for 17 years.

For Phoenix police, in general — and for at least one detective who examined the case in 2003 after he was prompted by Keenan's family members — Richard Earl Rodgers Sr. represents an abysmal failure.


The U.S. Marshals Service spurred the police to take another look at the case. In spring 2009, Ernie Grizzle, a supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal, was thinking of a way to give investigation training to a new crop of agents.

"We pulled up a list of cold-case homicides from 1970 to 2000," Grizzle says. "We met with the Phoenix PD and asked if [there was] any objection to us looking into just locating these people."

When Roger Cook's name was punched into the law enforcement database, the lawmen were astonished to see that the FBI had updated its record on Cook just a few weeks earlier.

The fingerprint check submitted in 1987 finally had been processed. Based on a fingerprint match, the FBI's computers had merged Rodgers' file with Cook's.

A similar malfunction was discovered last month after the arrest of John Whiting, a manslaughter suspect who had served a year in prison before ditching his probation and moving out of state. The U.S. Marshals Service tracked Whiting to Ohio and found he'd been arrested 14 times by local police ("Arizona Fugitive Charged," Valley Fever blog, September 9). The fingerprints taken in the new arrests never were linked to his old fingerprints in the FBI database, published reports say.

The FBI did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The problems are less likely to occur in the future, authorities say. In the old system, police submitted criminal fingerprints on cards — now they are entered into a database as soon as a suspect gets booked into jail.

Once Detective Armistead was armed with Rodgers' real name, it was a simple matter to find him. Rodgers had a California identification card listing an address in Long Beach.

Grizzle dispatched deputy marshals in California to interview Rodgers and try to confirm he was Cook. Rodgers readily admitted to using the name in Arizona.

"He says he couldn't remember why he was arrested in Arizona," Grizzle says. "They just told him there was a fight near an apartment complex. So he said, 'Oh, you're probably right.'"

Rodgers is confined to a wheelchair and requires "massive" amounts of medication, Grizzle says.

"It became an issue if they wanted to take the risk of taking him back here," he says.

"We did weigh it," says Hillman of the cold-case squad. "The cost was a big factor. But for the better of society, you have to do that."

Officials with the police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office huddled. It was decided that a case could still be made and that Rodgers would survive the short trip to Arizona.

He was booked in California, but it would be another three months before he could be flown here — mainly because his poor health kept him from showing up at court hearings, says Tom Higgins, chief of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's criminal division.

Doctors who examined Rodgers when he was booked into a medical-detention unit diagnosed him with congestive heart failure. Records don't state the nature of Rodgers' problem each time he missed a hearing, but doctors kept noting the absence was for "sufficient cause."

Finally, he was flown to the Valley, where he's been held for the past year.

Again assigned to Rodgers' defense, attorney John Curry filed two motions in the case. The first requested a competency hearing for Rodgers.

"I have found his memory to be sketchy," writes Curry in his motion. "Rather than focus on the issues at hand, he tends to recount highly dubious tales of adventures in the military, with police and federal agents, and with mafioso all around the country."

Even so, Rodgers was deemed competent to stand trial.

In the second motion, Curry (who declined to be interviewed for this article) argued that Rodgers had been denied a speedy trial. If only the government had tried harder to locate Cook/Rodgers, it would have surely found him, Curry claimed.

 

Bernita Clark, arguing for the prosecution, agrees in her response to Curry's motion that "the state was less than diligent in pursuing [Rodgers] by not linking his prints to two criminal records earlier."

But Rodgers is most at fault for the long delay, she concludes.

Judge Susanna Pineda denied Curry's motion on July 27. Two days later, Rodgers signed a plea agreement that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.


A few hours after learning that the September 1 sentencing hearing for Rodgers had been delayed, Verda Kazman meets New Times in the lobby of the Best Western motel at Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street, not far from where her son was killed. The frail grandmother and former travel agent wears a black dress and chain-smokes Senecas.

"I have a bad habit," she says with a raspy laugh.

The recession has forced Kazman to work when she expected to be retired — she has a part-time job at a catering company — and money is precious. But she spent the cash on another ticket to Arizona and intends to make the re-scheduled hearing. She's prepared to go ballistic if Rodgers doesn't get the "right" sentence.

It's not revenge that motivates her, she says. "It's justice — justice for the person he killed. Our family needs that justice. We've been grieving this whole time. "

Kazman knows her son was no angel. But he wasn't a bad kid, either. It wasn't easy to raise her three boys, she says, especially without their father around. The boys formed a tight bond with each other.

"God help anyone who picked on one of them," she says.

Terry Keenan enjoyed his liquor, she admits. But he and his brothers weren't violent, she maintains, and they weren't into drugs.

Keenan's autopsy revealed a .14 blood alcohol level at the time of his death but no trace of meth or any other illegal drug. Court records from Macomb County, Michigan, back up Kazman's assertion that Keenan had no major criminal record.

Keenan's girlfriend, Peggy LaChapelle, was the first to break the news of the young man's death to Kazman. It was like a nuke going off in the family.

"Visitor hops fence, is fatally shot after tiff," was the headline of a short story on page B8 of the Arizona Republic.

In fact, Keenan never did climb the fence, as the police report and interview with Fair show.

Kazman and her surviving sons flew out briefly in 1987 to talk to investigators and LaChapelle (who soon would move back to Michigan). After that, the family had to observe the case proceedings from their home state. Kazman remembers being miffed when she learned that her son's killer was out on bond and getting outraged when court staff told her later that the killer was missing.

Terry's dad, Gerry Keenan, never recovered from the blow and died a broken man in 1998, Kevin Reiser says.

Sean Keenan and his brother, Reiser, tried to track down the fugitive killer but didn't know how to go about it.

Sean took the role as squeaky wheel, often calling Phoenix authorities to find out whether they'd learned anything new about the case.

Reiser, who lives in rural Melvin, Michigan, says his brother called at least once a year, on Terry's birthday. The brothers wrote threatening letters to dozens of people across the country named Roger Cook, demanding he turn himself in, if he was the fugitive Cook. Arguments often erupted because Reiser didn't think brother Sean (who earned more money) was doing enough, Reiser confesses.

Four years ago, Sean decided he'd put up a billboard in the Phoenix area in the hopes of getting a tip. The billboard company rejected the message — and Sean's $1,200 check — because it criticized Sheriff Joe Arpaio for failing to capture the fugitive, Reiser says. Sean Keenan didn't try again, spurring another argument with his brother.

Time, instead of mellowing the brothers, only intensified their anger and frustration.

"If [Rodgers] had done only two or three years, I'd have been cool with it," Reiser says. "I'm trying to let it go. I kicked in the door the other day when I found they'd postponed the [hearing]. I've had it."

If only he and his brother could've found Rodgers, he fumes, "we could have saved Maricopa taxpayers a lot of money."

In July, Sean died after a short battle with esophageal cancer. His wife gave Kazman a thick file Sean had compiled regarding his brother's death. The file included the old police report she'd never read. It also included a short letter from PPD Detective A.R. Scott, dated August 29, 2003.

 

"I've researched everything here and there to bring you some closure to this; however, I haven't found anything else," Scott wrote to Sean, adding that two Social Security numbers linked to Roger Cook actually belonged to women. "I'm sorry to say that I have nowhere to go from here."

Asked about that note, Sergeant Hillman says Scott (now retired) "wouldn't have known that there was an issue with the linking of the prints or that they should have been re-submitted."

A couple of weeks after Sean died, Kazman took a shocking phone call from a Phoenix detective: Rodgers was in custody.

She decided to read the police report the night before flying to Phoenix.

"I just absolutely broke down," Kazman says, crying again. "It was cold-blooded murder."

Since learning of the screw-ups that led to Rodgers' 22-year run, Kazman says she wondered which Arizona judge had ordered Rodgers' release on the $1,000 unsecured bond, and why.

Kazman found another reason to be angry when she learned that court records revealed that the judge had a drug habit.

"If he had been straight, it probably wouldn't have happened," she says.

Kazman flew home the day after the canceled sentencing hearing. A week later, she buried her best friend, who'd died of cancer.

Life goes on, though: She's got seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Two in the bunch are named after Terry.


Mel Miller, owner of Magnolia Manor in Long Beach, had never heard the name Roger Cook until federal investigators visited the place last year.

To him, Cook always was Richard Rodgers. Except that the way Miller gushes over Rodgers, you'd think he was talking about a John Wayne character.

"He's a man among men," says Miller, 88. "Couldn't beat him. A guy who'd help you out if he could. Straightforward in everything he said and everything he did."

Well, not everything, Miller has to admit. Rodgers sure never copped to being a fugitive from Arizona. But he was a well-liked resident of the senior-living complex, and you get to know a man when you see him almost every day for 15 years, Miller says.

Rodgers kept his apartment clean, paid his rent on time, and "looked after everybody else" at the complex, Miller says. He adds that Rodgers was very sharp and seemed far from an Alzheimer's patient: "You'd see him riding all over town in his scooter."

For years, Rodgers helped "one of his girlfriends," a next-door neighbor, with her cooking, cleaning, and errands.

"She wouldn't have even been able to be here if it wasn't for him," Miller says.

Roger Haley, 79, clearly no legal scholar, says he's surprised the manslaughter charge couldn't be dismissed after all these years, because of Rodgers' "character."

Haley says, "We all made mistakes in our lifetime — some we can't talk about. We're all hoping he'll get leniency."

Rodgers' apartment sits ready for him to re-inhabit it, the rent paid for each month by his hopeful daughter, Connie.

But it's doubtful that he'll ever be back.

UPDATE: On the day this article was published, Roger Cook, a.k.a. Richard Rodgers, was sentenced to seven years in prison for shooting 23-year-old Terance Keenan in cold blood back in 1987. He received credit for the 448 days he served in jail before the sentencing. Despite his advanced age and poor medical condition, Cook/Rodgers did his time in a state prison and was released in March of 2014, at the age of 87.


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