Angels & Demons
FRAMING THE QUESTION: By the summer of 1992, three years after the murders, the detectives were willing to try almost anything. So they erected billboards around Tampa Bay, trying to get the attention of the public -- and of whoever held the key to solving the case.
Sgt. Moore was praying.
He did it every morning, in his car on his way to work. He did it in the evenings, in his prayer group at his Baptist church. He prayed for himself and his team of investigators. He prayed for the man they were hunting.
Glen Moore did not know why God had allowed this person to walk free through the world, doing such horrific things. But he believed that the Lord had a reason for everything, even this. So now he was asking for illumination. He wanted to understand what purpose the killer served, what goal was being furthered in the eternal plan. Mostly, though, he wanted to know how to track this man down and lock him away forever.
"If you want us to find this guy," he would say to God, "show us the way."
A thousand miles to the north, Hal Rogers was carrying on his own conversation with God.
People kept telling Hal that God never gives us more of a burden than we can handle. But Hal, lost for so long in numbing sorrow, was not so sure. There were days, standing in the milking parlor before dawn, when he would have given anything for God to come down from heaven and answer a question or two.
For starters, Hal wondered why God had taken his family from him. Hal had heard the minister's explanation for this at the funeral, but he had found that particular explanation to be empty, unmemorable, completely useless. What purpose had been served by allowing his wife and daughters to suffer and die in the prime of their lives? Why, for that matter, had God left Hal alive to continue on alone? Why had he been chosen for such a loss? Had he done something wrong?
The months were blurring together. Hal was drinking too much. He was driving his car too fast late at night. For a while he was frightened, because he could not bring himself to summon up a clear image of Jo's and Michelle's and Christe's faces. Try as he might, he could not remember what they looked like.
One day, Hal decided to put an end to it all. He climbed on his motorcycle, found a long and empty stretch of State Road 49, accelerated till he was tearing down the pavement at
100 mph, then closed his eyes and took both hands off the handlebars. A mile or two later, when the motorcycle finally stopped, he opened his eyes and realized he was still on the pavement and still very much alive.
He figured it was Jo and the girls, watching over him. They weren't ready to let him join them yet.
THE SURVIVOR: Exhausted after a morning of milking, Hal Rogers lies down in the front room of his home, sleeping on a runner so he won't dirty the house with the cow manure on his work clothes. After the murders, the months and years blurred together for Hal.
©Copyright 1999, St. Petersburg Times.
All rights reserved.|