Police are intensifying the investigation into the deaths of three women whose bodies were found in Tampa Bay in 1989, nearly doubling the investigative team in hopes of solving the murders.
Six St. Petersburg police detectives and one Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigator will join the eight-member team trying to find the killer or killers of Joan Rogers, 36, and daughters Christe, 14, and Michelle, 17, said St. Petersburg police Sgt. Glen "Boomer" Moore, who is heading the investigation.
Police have had 3,000 citizen leads into the case in which the women, vacationing from their dairy farm in Ohio, were bound, gagged and thrown overboard from a boat in Tampa Bay. When found in the bay June 4, 1989, two were tied to concrete blocks. All were naked below the waist.
Police say the three probably met their killer after they checked into their Tampa hotel at 12:30 p.m. June 1. Police say the family, with written directions to look for something blue and white, joined someone at a nearby boat ramp. Their car, a blue, two-door 1986 Oldsmobile, was still at the ramp three days later.
Moore will not comment on specific suspects or possible evidence.
There are "a half-dozen" suspects "that we are looking at," Moore said. "I believe they're all Tampa Bay-area people. We're up to 3,000 citizen leads at this point. And of course we generate our own investigative leads. So it takes a lot of manpower to run down all that stuff."
The list of suspects once had eight names. Another time, it had two strong possibilities. The number changes, Moore said, because "nobody is totally and completely 100 percent eliminated." A suspect may drop from the list, but if new information comes in, "we always leave some room to revive them."
Police Chief Ernest "Curt" Curtsinger approved bolstering the investigation after reviewing the case, Moore said. Through Friday, the investigative team consisted of Moore, three detectives, two civilian investigators who work for the Police Department and two indexers who help file and organize material. The seven new members will join Monday.
"All we believe is that the case is solvable," Moore said. "It just needs the attention that it deserves. And I guess that's what the chief saw. He participated in the review himself."
Hal Rogers, whose family was killed in Florida while he stayed home to tend to a dairy farm outside Willshire, Ohio, said he was not aware of any new developments in the case. Asked about the last time police called, he said: "I don't even remember."