Conversations with Callahan
I corresponded with Dennis Rogers via e-mail on January 24, 2005 and spoke with him on the phone on April 24, 2007. Rogers began as a newspaper reporter in 1971, and the North Carolina native has written for the Raleigh News & Observer since 1976. I found Rogers to be a classic "no b.s." kind of guy. He was forthright, funny, and he was not shy about expressing his opinions regarding this case.
Dennis Rogers was a Staff Sergeant at Fort Bragg when the murders occurred and a base alert was put out that involved military personnel searching buildings in the neighborhood for potential intruders. Rogers expressed the fact that he was "one of the soldiers at Bragg who searched buildings that morning looking for blood spattered male hippies hiding in the rafters." In 1974, Rogers wrote an article for the Fayetteville Times about the Article 32 hearings that focused on Colonel Rock's suggestion that law enforcement further investigate Helena Stoeckley. Rogers was unable to locate Stoeckley, so he identified her in his article as Miss X. A day after the article was published, he received a phone call at his home from a woman who said, "This is Miss X. And I'm going to kill you." Rogers told me that his home phone was an unlisted number and that he has never figured out how Stoeckley obtained the number. Rogers admitted that this scenario "scared the shit out of me."
Rogers set up a meeting with Stoeckley at his office, he notified his boss of this meeting, and security was present when Stoeckley arrived at the Fayetteville Times. Rogers quickly realized that Stoeckley's threat was "only for attention" and that she was a "pathetic person who was seriously screwed up on drugs." Rogers drove Stoeckley past 544 Castle Drive to see if she could provide any salient details to her possible involvement in this crime. Rogers expressed to me that she didn't recognize anything in the neighborhood and that "it was evident that she didn't know the area and that she had no direct knowledge of these murders." Stoeckley then told Rogers that she needed money for food and Rogers provided her with 20 dollars.
Dennis Rogers covered the trial in 1979, and spoke at length with the MacDonald defense team. Rogers felt that MacDonald was charming, that he told his story in a convincing fashion, and that he was "very believable." Once the physical evidence was presented by the prosecution, however, Rogers became convinced that MacDonald was guilty. Rogers felt that the evidence was overwhelming and that attempts by the MacDonald defense team to minimize its significance don't adhere to common sense.
Rogers does not have a high opinion of Fred Bost. Rogers states that Bost has called him in the past to argue about the case and that he expressed to Bost that Bost's book Fatal Justice was filled with inaccuracies. Rogers feels that Bost's main goal in writing his book was simply to "make money." Rogers has also spoken to several federal marshals who worked with Jimmy Britt, and said that their opinion of Britt is similar to Roger's opinion of Bost. Rogers feels that if there is a hearing on the Britt issue, Brian Murtagh will "tear Britt apart."
Rogers is fascinated by the fact that this case remains in the public consciousness. He laughed and stated that "It's amazing that I still remember details about this case, yet other cases kind of fade away." Rogers added that when you combine the physical evidence collected at the crime scene with the April 6, 1970 CID interview with MacDonald, there should be no doubt that MacDonald is guilty of murdering his family. Rogers stated that despite the "ripping they took," William Ivory, Robert Shaw and Franz Grebner "nailed it down that first day and after their interview with MacDonald, they knew they had him."