Unusual Suspects, Part 3

A mercenary knocks, almost everybody talks, and a new light shines on two mysterious deaths

Roger also insisted on retrieving Rick's possessions from the house, claiming that Rick's mother, Opal, had asked him to do it. But Opal later informed Barbara that it was Roger who had suggested the idea. Opal, who died three years ago, would become one of Barbara's most steadfast allies in her struggle to find the killers.

After Rick's funeral, Kathy Strode, a close friend, also shared some stories about Roger with Barbara. She recounted having lunch with a mutual friend, Jeannine Turner, the day after the deaths. "Did you ever think that Roger Sexton might have anything to do with this?" Kathy recalls Jeannine asking her.

"No," Kathy answered. "Why do you think that?"

Jeannine never responded. Instead, she clammed up.

Kathy also remembered that during the funeral, Roger had said the couple had died from poisoned cocaine. That was strange, because at the time, police hadn't released any information about the deaths. Even Barbara, who found the bodies, was clueless about the cause or causes of death.

Barbara and Kathy both reported their suspicions about Roger to the Coral Springs police, who nevertheless seemed satisfied that the couple had died from simultaneous recreational cocaine overdoses.

So Barbara hired a private investigator, Robert Stotler. Just one month after the deaths, the P.I. went to Kentucky and interviewed two of Roger's close associates, a former employee named Lonnie Pierce and Gary Elmore, a caretaker for Roger's houseboats. Neither gave the investigator any explosive information, but when Roger heard about it, he was furious. He called Barbara on June 2, and she tape-recorded the call.

"Hold your seat," Roger told her. "They said they were trying to tie me in with the murder of Rick Weed and Jane."

Barbara knew this wasn't true -- Stotler had told her that he never mentioned the word murder and didn't ask direct questions about the Coral Springs deaths. Of the private investigator, Roger said, "I was looking for him, because I was going to kick his ass, and I will the minute I see him. I don't give a fuck if it's in a courtroom or in a police station; I am going to attack this motherfucker, and I'm going to fuck him up before anybody stops me or can get me off of him."

Roger also vowed to exact revenge on the cops if they arrested him for the couple's murder. "When they come after me, I'm going to take a few of them with me," he said on the phone. "I'm telling you, I will take a bunch of motherfuckers with me, and they will all be those low-life fucking nigger cops."

It was Elmore, however, who really felt Roger's wrath. Within days of his interview with Stotler, the caretaker told the Kentucky State Police that he feared Roger was going to murder him and make it look like a suicide. He further informed the cops that his boss liked to torture people before killing them. Elmore was so frightened that he began sleeping in a tree outside his home and talked of moving away.

His fears appear to have been terribly well-founded. On June 12, just three days after he called police, Elmore's body was discovered on the banks of the Cumberland River in a remote area several miles from his car. He'd been shot in the heart with a 22-caliber pistol. The spent cartridge was never found. Though several relatives told local authorities that Elmore feared Roger was going to kill him, they ruled it a suicide. The same week, Pierce also turned up dead -- he was killed while allegedly racing a motorcycle in his Corvette.

Richard Barton, a detective with the Kentucky State Police, had been looking into drug rumors about Roger for several months and believed that Roger had killed Elmore. When he learned of Barbara's suspicions that his suspect had been involved in other deaths, the detective intensified his investigation. "Barbara Gordon helped me," says Barton, who is now director of the Tennessee Drug Task Force. "I was kind of grasping at straws on Sexton, and then she came along and helped put some of this together."

In July 1988, Barton flew to Broward County, hoping to share information on the deaths with police and the medical examiner. He says they basically ignored him because they were convinced Rick and Jane had overdosed while partying. "I kind of felt shocked that they wouldn't cooperate more with me," Barton recalls. "They might have thought I was just a hillbilly cop. I didn't believe [the deaths of Rick and Jane] were overdoses when I went down there, and I still don't. Too many coincidences."

Barton returned to Kentucky and arranged for a confidential informant to buy cocaine from Roger, who threatened to kill the informant during wiretapped conversations and boasted that he had murdered people. Subsequent searches of Roger's homes and boats turned up machine guns, illegal silencers, pictures of corpses, and even a fake Ohio University diploma. Barton arrested Roger on cocaine trafficking and weapons charges and put him behind bars. "He was an idiot to have pictures of murder victims with him, but we couldn't find out where they were taken," Barton says. "He had a picture of himself standing over a dead person. It was supposed to be in some foreign country. It might have been trick photography. He's a good con man."

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