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‘Last Call’ true story: HBO doc is about the serial killer Richard Rogers, who targeted Manhattan’s gay bars

The former Mount Sinai Medical Center nurse preyed on men visiting Manhattan's gay bars in the 1990s.
/ Source: TODAY

HBO’s docuseries “Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked New York” has gained traction since it premiered on July 9. 

The four-part series investigates the stories surrounding a serial killer who targeted gay men in a series of brutal murders and dismemberments in the 1990s. The show features interviews with victims’ partners and family members, LGBTQ+ activists, and police officers who worked on the case.

The docuseries is based on Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York, a 2021 nonfiction book by Elon Green that won the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. Read on for an overview of the story explored in the true crime documentary

Who is Richard Rogers?

Richard W. Rogers Jr., nicknamed the “Last Call Killer,” was convicted of two murders. Officials believed he carried out two more, and evidence of those killings was permitted at his trial.  

Rogers formerly worked as a nurse at Mount Sinai Medical Center and lived in Staten Island, per his trial transcript. Carrying out murders in the ‘90s, Rogers evaded arrest until 2001.

"He is a lovely fellow who likes antiques and everything that has to do with money," Patrick Henry, a lawyer who said he had known Rogers for 12 years, told the New York Times after Rogers was charged in 2001. "He was the kind of guy you could trust with your A.T.M. card."

Like his victims, who were bisexual and gay, Rogers is a gay man, per his trial transcript.

Green’s book goes over some of his biographical details: Rogers was the eldest of five children born to a family in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Rogers had had run-ins with the law before for similarly morbid allegations. In 1973, he was implicated in the death of a fellow graduate student at the University of Maine. He was acquitted after claiming self defense.

In 1988, he was charged again for drugging, tying up, and injuring a 47-year-old man in his Staten Island apartment, and was acquitted in a 1990 trial. Richards’ lawyer, Christopher Nalley, successfully painted the accuser, Sandy Harrow, as unreliable: “The problem here is, Judge, that I believe Mr. Harrow is nuts.”

Who were Rogers’ victims?

Rogers was charged and found guilty of two counts of murder. A total of four murders were brought up at his trial, but he was only charged in Thomas Mulcahy and Anthony Marrero’s murders.

All four victims were middle-aged, gay or bisexual men, last seen at gay bars in Manhattan. Their bodies were found in trash bags along roads and highways in the tri-state area. 

In 1991, 54-year-old investment banker Peter Stickney Anderson disappeared after leaving Manhattan’s Townhouse Bar, and was found dismembered in trash bags in Pennsylvania, per his trial transcript. A year later, in 1992, Thomas Mulcahy, a 57-year-old computer equipment sales executive from Massachusetts, also disappeared after visiting the Townhouse. Mulcahy, a married father of four, was also found in trash bags.

In May 1993, Anthony Marrero, a 44-year-old bisexual sex worker, disappeared after going to meet a client. In July 1993, Michael Sakara, a gay man in his 50s, left  Five Oaks Piano Bar, where he was a regular, with Rogers and was never seen again.  

After the killings, evidence presented during Rogers’ trial stated that he stopped visiting the bars. When he came back, he presented different reasons for his absence, telling one man he had moved to Florida and another his work schedule had changed. 

While he was not charged in killing Anderson and Sakara, authorities said they believe he was responsible for their killings. A New Jersey judge ruled that Anderson and Sakara’s killings could be presented in his trial to show Rogers’ “identity, opportunity, intent and plan” in carrying out the killings, with investigators showing similarities around murder and body disposal.

Where is Rogers now?

Rogers was arrested in 2001 after investigators used fingerprint technology to match his prints with those on a plastic bag carrying a victim found in Ocean County. Rogers is currently serving two consecutive life sentences in prison for the murders of Mulcahy and Marrero.