“If in fact she did do this to herself, it points to a much larger issue of self-hatred.” Heartland Pride President Beth Rigatuso
Charlie Rogers’ story about crawling at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning – bound, bloodied, and baying – across the street to her neighbor’s house after being brutally attacked by three men seemed too horrific to be true. Yesterday, police in Lincoln, Nebraska, concluded it was just that.
The 33-year-old lesbian, a former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star, arrived on the front door of her neighbor Linda Rappl’s house on July 22, with a story out of a horror movie. Three masked men had broken into her home, tied her up with plastic zip ties, carved a cross into her chest and anti-gay slurs into her arms and stomach, spray painted hateful words onto her walls, then tried to set her home on fire.
“All I could see was a cut across her forehead and blood running down,” Rappl said.
Rogers said the men held her down on her bed, cut her from her thighs to shins, then turned her over and sliced her from her buttocks to her right calf. Rappl described the wounds as “superficial” but signs of “torture.”
Lincoln police found Rogers’ wall covered in messages including “We found U D-ke,” and “Leave kids alone.” They also found traces of gasoline, and the door she said she busted through.
“When she was standing at my door, I believed everything,” Rappl said. “I had no reason to doubt that what she said happened had happened.”
The town and surrounding area believed her story, too, as her tale ricocheted around the internet.
Omaha-based Heartland Pride held a rally last month outside the Lincoln capitol, attracting 1,000 people and raising $1,800, which Heartland President Beth Rigatuso deposited in a bank account for Rogers. First Plymouth Congregational Church held a second event in her honor. Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, a Democrat. issued a statement declaring, “We stand united with our gay and lesbian citizens in denouncing violence directed at any group.” But Rogers’ story quickly unraveled.
Police say her story changed markedly during the four times they questioned her.
LPD investigator Lynette Russell said she found the bedspread, where three men had purportedly restrained and tortured her, “evenly placed on the bed and no apparent sign of a struggle,” and without a spot of blood.
Then there were the wounds themselves. Russell said they “appeared superficial and symmetrical, [and] avoided sensitive areas of the body.” They appeared to be consistent with someone writing on themselves, she said.
At the scene, police found a pair of white knit gloves. “She had told the investigators initially that the gloves were the only things that were left behind by her assailants and that they were not hers,” said Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong. But the only DNA the University of Nebraska Medical Center found inside them “matched Miss Rogers.”
Police soon found that she had purchased a pair of white gloves, zip ties, a utility knife, and blades at the local Ace Hardware store on July 17. They matched the bar codes to those sold at the store, and an employee identified Rogers as having shopped there.
The day after shopping at Ace – four days before the alleged assault – Rogers posted on Facebook: “So maybe I am too idealistic, but I believe way deep inside me that we can make things better for everyone. I will be a catalyst. I will do what it takes. I will. Watch me.”
Police suggest Rogers receive counseling. See KETV news report.