Gordon Bruce ROGERS
Missing presumed murdered.
Gordon Rogers, then aged 20 years, was last seen at Beachport at 3.30 a.m. on 2 August 1970. He was a Canadian Citizen. He was reported as a missing person at Beachport Police Station at 10.30 a.m. the same day by a friend and work colleague.
Gordan was a resident of Saskatchewan, Canada and was on a working holiday in Australia after arriving in Sydney on 28 March 1970 on a twelve month visa. After travelling for a short time he was employed by the Woods and Forest Department as a labourer. He intended to work for them for six weeks before travelling to New Zealand.
On the day of his disappearance, Gordan had been drinking with the friend who subsequently reported him missing, and had attended a party in Beachport. The friend stated that he left the party to take his girlfriend home and asked another male to take Gordan home. The other male stated that he took another female home first and when he returned to the party Gordan was no longer there. Gordan has not been seen or heard of since.
If you have information that may assist police in the disappearance of Gordan please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
POLICE have reopened investigations into the 45-year-old mystery disappearance and presumed murder of Canadian man Gordon Rogers at Beachport in the South-East of SA.
Major Crime detectives have returned to the quiet fishing town over the past week and have reinterviewed numerous people they believe can assist the investigation and hopefully lead to the recovery of his remains.
The move came after a review of the case file was launched and in response to fresh information provided by several callers to Crimestoppers as part of a cold case campaign aimed at prompting breakthroughs in the 113 unsolved murders in South Australia.
As part of the campaign a reward of $200,000 has been posted in the Gordon Rogers case. It will be paid to anyone who either provides information leading to the recovery of his remains or information leading to a conviction in the case.
Major Crime case officer Detective Brevet Sergeant Anthony van der Stelt said he was confident there were still people living at Beachport who had knowledge of what had happened to Mr Rogers, 21, in the early hours of August 2, 1970, after he left a party in the town.
He did not return to the house he was staying at with a friend, leaving his passport and belongings untouched.
Mr Rogers was a university student on a working holiday in Australia. He had already visited Perth, Alice Springs and Brisbane and had secured a part-time job in the forestry industry at Mt Burr, near Mt Gambier at the time he vanished.
Extensive investigations have resulted in statements being taken from more than 50 people at the party in Second St. A number have provided valuable information that is still being developed.
While police do not have a suspect, there are a number of people who have come to notice during the course of the investigation who are still being scrutinised.
Det Bvt Sgt van der Stelt said fresh information was still being provided to police about people who were at the party which indicated it “was an investigation that people in the South-East are very much aware of’’.
“It is a small country town now, it was even smaller then. There is no doubt there are people, or at least one person, who knows what happened to Gordon Rogers,’’ he said.
“Forty-five years on, people’s friendships and allegiances sometimes change and people start thinking about these things and recognise that Gordon’s family would still like to have answers.
“It must play on people’s minds that they have this information they could give to police.
“Now may be the time for them to relieve themselves of that burden.’’
While detectives have never discovered any motive in the case, there was some information Mr Rogers may have been involved in a fight at the party, but Det Bvt Sgt van der Stelt said he felt “he may have been mistaken for other people”.
“There is certainly information of an argument that became physical between some of the partygoers, but I do not think Mr Rogers was involved in that. That was of a fairly minor nature.’’
While detectives know Mr Rogers was at the party until just after 3am, how he left the party and what then transpired remain a mystery. Despite initial reports he was seen walking home, these are now believed to be unreliable.
“I know there was an arrangement for him to be taken home from the party by another person, but that did not eventuate,’’ Det Bvt Sgt van der Stelt said.
“That person left the party with another person and returned to find Mr Rogers was no longer there.
‘’The arrangement was between this person and a friend Mr Rogers was staying with, but we don’t know if he was aware of this arrangement. He may have been, but it is not clear so he might have walked from the party.’’
Police have conducted several searches as part of the lengthy investigation, including in nearby pine forests and in a septic tank within the town, but no trace of Mr Rogers has been found.
Det Bvt Sgt van der Stelt said those who were attending the party were “ordinary, decent townspeople’’ and it may well be the case Mr Rogers may have been killed unintentionally after an altercation got out of hand. No evidence of any intent to harm Mr Rogers has been uncovered during any of the interviews conducted with those attending the party.
“Some murder victims end up as such because of their lifestyle. His death may have been simply one of circumstance. The party wasn’t full of criminals, they were decent law-abiding people,’’ he said.
“It is entirely likely there was no intent, no pre-planning other than to give him a hiding and that went too far. It is likely a number of decent people have knowledge of this incident. They are at no risk from us if they come forward now.’’
In that likely scenario, the person or persons responsible may have then panicked and opted to dispose of Mr Rogers’ body.
While the length of time that has elapsed since the murder has presented detectives with some difficulties, they are also hoping it may also work in their favour. The Beachport locals who attended the party are now aged between 60 and 90 and may now be prepared to assist police.
“They are decent people, but it may be they are fearful of coming forward because they have been silent for so long,’’ Det Bvt Sgt van der Stelt said.
“They may have given false versions of what they were aware of relating to what happened that night and it may well have been weighing on their mind all this time.
“They are old enough now to know they should come forward and speak to us so we can resolve this matter. They have nothing to fear from us.’’