The Life and Mysterious Death of D. Scott Rogo

Updated on July 17, 2018
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KT Dunn is a Midwest native with a lifelong interest in history and mystery.

Although D. Scott Rogo authored or co-authored a total of 30 books on paranormal topics from 1967 to the time of his death in 1990, many of these books have gone out of print over the years and have become difficult to find. He was considered a leading authority in the field of parapsychology, having also written many articles and lectured on the topic at John F. Kennedy University.

Rogo's work was published in a number of professional journals, including the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research and the International Journal of Parapsychology. He served as a visiting research consultant to the Psychical Research Foundation in Durham, North Carolina, in 1973. He was a consulting editor for Fate magazine, where he wrote a regular column. He collaborated with another well-known author, Raymond Bayless, to write Phone Calls From the Dead (see below).

Background

Douglas Scott Rogo was born on February 1, 1950, and lived his entire life in California's San Fernando Valley. He died in August 1990, at the age of 40. A graduate of California State University, Northridge, he was a musician who also studied the psychology of music. Scott claimed to have had an out-of-body experience as a child, which prompted his lifelong interest in the paranormal.

While still a student at California State at the age of 19, he published his first book, titled NAD: A Study of Unusual Other-World Experiences. NAD in Sanskrit refers to otherworldly sounds or music. This book was later reprinted by Anomalist Books as a two-volume work entitled Paranormal Music Experiences.

A serious student of the paranormal, Scott Rogo’s interests included exposure of fraud in the field. He acknowledged the possibility that some psychic experiences were psychological in origin rather than supernatural. His friend and co-author, Raymond Bayless, said, “He only used scientific methods to determine what caused the phenomena.”

Phone Calls From the Dead by D. Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless, and Life After Death by D. Scott Rogo
Phone Calls From the Dead by D. Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless, and Life After Death by D. Scott Rogo

Writing and Research

Phone Calls From the Dead

Together with fellow parapsychologist Raymond Bayless, Scott Rogo published Phone Calls From the Dead (Prentice-Hall, 1979), a study of that particular phenomenon, which included personal accounts of people purporting to have received such calls. Some of the cases cited were collected from the work of other researchers, and some were reported to Bayless and Rogo during interviews they conducted themselves.

One of these cases was taken from The Power of the Mind (1975) by author Susy Smith. An Arizona couple named named Bonnie and C.E. MacConnell had described a phone call they received one evening from an elderly friend they referred to as “Enid Johlson,” whom they had not seen in a while. Enid spoke with both of the MacConnells, and during the conversation stated that she was now residing in a nearby nursing home. Mrs. MacConnell expressed a wish to visit her and bring her a bottle of her favorite brandy for her birthday, to which Enid replied, “I won’t need it now.” Several days after that telephone call, Mrs. MacConnell contacted the nursing home asking to speak to Enid. She was told that Enid had passed away on Sunday morning, although they had not spoken to her until Sunday evening. Apparently the MacConnells produced a notarized statement attesting to this incident.

Another case involved a Los Angeles physician, Dr. John Medved. In 1977 he contacted the Society for Psychic Research in Beverly Hills, and was referred to Raymond Bayless with his story. He claimed that after his mother’s death in 1974 he received a phone call wherein a woman’s voice repeatedly called his name, “Johnny.” Although he recognized her voice, he asked, “Who is this?” She replied, “Your mother,” and the call then ended. A friend of Dr. Medved’s was present at the time of this call, and later corroborated the story when interviewed by Raymond Bayless.

Besides phone calls from the dead, Scott Rogo's various writings explored out-of-body experiences, reincarnation, ESP, miracles, visits by apparitions, and more.

Life After Death

In Life After Death: The Case for Survival of Bodily Death (The Aquarian Press, 1986), one of the cases Rogo discussed was that of Teresita Basa. A respiratory therapist at Chicago's Edgewater Hospital, Teresita apparently communicated with a coworker after her death and identified her own killer, who was later convicted of her 1977 murder.

A few months after Teresita was found murdered in her apartment, a woman named Remy Chua, who had worked at the hospital with the victim, claimed to be receiving messages from Teresita while in a trance state. Those messages told her that another coworker named Allan Showery had killed Teresita, stolen several pieces of her jewelry, and given them to his girlfriend.

All this was eventually proven to be true; however, questions arose about Mrs. Chua's veracity. Apparently she had not originally admitted to police that she knew both Teresita and Showery as well as she did, which could indicate that she had obtained the information by other means, and it was speculated that she may have been afraid of retribution had she told anyone about it. Still, Rogo wondered why Mrs. Chua would not have simply made an anonymous report to police. Also, he noted that she had inexplicably begun experiencing personality changes around the time the trance episodes began, to the extent that she was fired from her job at the hospital.

Testimony regarding Teresita's spirit communications was permitted at Allan Showery's trial. Showery initially confessed to the murder but attempted to change his plea at trial, which ended in a mistrial. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison after a second trial, but served less than 5 years before being released.

Reprints of Books by D. Scott Rogo

Title
Publisher/Year
Miracles
Anomalist/2005
Paranormal Music Experiences Vol 1: A Casebook of Otherworldly Music
 
Paranormal Music Experiences Vol. 2: A Psychic Study of the Music of the Spheres
 
In Search of the Unknown
 
On the Track of the Poltergeist
 
Our Psychic Potentials
 
The Search for Yesterday
 
The Haunted Universe
Anomalist/2006
Leaving the Body
Simon & Schuster/2008
Some 15 years after Rogo’s death, several of his books were selected for reprinting with permission of his estate, eight titles by Anomalist Books in 2005 and 2006, and another in 2008 by Simon & Schuster.

Radio Broadcast Featuring D. Scott Rogo

A Halloween broadcast of the Los Angeles radio show Hour 25, with host Harlan Ellison, was aired on October 31, 1986. Ellison’s guests were Scott Rogo, believer in the reality of psychic experiences, and David Alexander, magician and publisher, an avowed skeptic. In the audio file below, D. Scott Rogo is introduced into the discussion at approximately the 15:43 time marker.

Murder

Little is publicly known about Scott Rogo’s last few days on earth. On Tuesday morning, August 14, 1990, he had worked at an AIDS hotline until noon. That afternoon, his neighbor reportedly saw him start his backyard sprinklers. On Thursday afternoon, August 16, Rogo was found dead in his Northridge home, where he lived and worked alone. The neighbor had contacted police because he believed Rogo’s lawn sprinklers had been running continuously since Tuesday, during a water shortage, and he had become concerned that something was wrong. When police entered the house through an open door they found Scott on the floor of his den, having been stabbed to death. He had been robbed of the contents of his wallet and a few other items that were later identified by his parents as missing, but otherwise the house seemed relatively undisturbed. Evidence at the scene included bloody fingerprints on a wall.

A local bartender reportedly had recognized Scott with a male companion at the In Touch bar twice during the previous two days, but to those who knew him it seemed uncharacteristic that he would have left his yard sprinklers on all that time to go off to a bar, especially when water use was under restriction.

Motive other than robbery was not readily apparent, suspects were scarce, and there were no known witnesses. It was a quiet, upscale neighborhood, and Scott Rogo tended to keep to himself. A neighbor of Scott’s named George Foster was quoted as saying, "He worked in his house and was a writer, and I knew him to say hello to.” Foster also stated that he was not aware of the subject matter of Rogo’s books.

Interestingly, an August 18, 1990, article about Scott's murder was written by Michael Connelly, now famous as the author of the best-selling Bosch series, when he was a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Aftermath

Eventually a 29-year-old man named John Battista, an acquaintance of Scott’s, was arrested and charged with the murder. After two trials, the first of which resulted in a mistrial, Battista was convicted of the crime in 1992. However, the conviction was overturned on appeal in 1996. Apparently the fingerprints failed to match, no other evidence at the scene served to implicate Battista, and no other significant leads have materialized since that time.

What Really Happened?

So who killed Scott Rogo, and why? Was it a robbery gone bad or simply an argument which escalated? It seems unlikely to me that the murder was premeditated, and logic tells me that money was undoubtedly involved. Scott was apparently known to befriend people a little too readily, and perhaps he was too generous and not inclined to be cautious enough. Did someone think he owed them money, or did they just come to take it? Although a few things were missing from his home, including the contents of his wallet, more valuable items were left behind, such as books and manuscripts. However, these things could not have been readily turned into cash. Could this person have simply been desperate for any amount of money, perhaps to buy drugs?

Of course, a number of psychics weighed in on the matter at the time, and at least one of them, Armand Marcotte, was known to have worked with police on other cases. At one point, Marcotte claimed to have received a communication from Scott saying that two men, one of them apparently Scott's friend John Battista, had come to his door. Marcotte said the men were looking for work and attempted to pressure Scott into paying them more money than he offered. Supposedly an argument ensued, and the other man ended up fatally stabbing Scott. Then Battista attempted to get rid of any evidence, but inadvertently left a fingerprint on a glass, which the police failed to locate.

The parallels of this story with the Teresita Basa case are sadly ironic, but the most promising report of afterlife communication with Scott eventually proved to be unsubstantiated when Battista's conviction was overturned. Or did it? According to authors Jeffrey Mishlove, Katherine Ramsland, and other sources, John Battista was released from prison on a prosecutorial technicality. And if the two-man theory is correct, the bloody print found at the house which did not turn out to be Battista’s could have belonged to his accomplice. So perhaps the case was solved after all. One thing is certain, though. The person who killed D. Scott Rogo, if that person is still living, is out there somewhere and waiting to be found.

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