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Man charged in brutal North Fort Myers homicide

By Staff | May 30, 2009

A North Fort Myers man found dead in his home Thursday was decapitated.
Robert Charles Cope, 55, was charged with second degree murder Friday in the death of Charles Buddy Rogers, 70.
Rogers’ body was discovered at 4210 Hatton Rogers Lane, Apt. 16, after the Sheriff’s Office received a call about an “unresponsive person” shortly before 2 p.m. May 28.
An arrest report from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office states that the body had been decapitated.
“Once the deputies made it in, it was obvious that a trauma event had taken place that resulted in the death of Charles Buddy Rogers,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Sheehan Friday. “Due to the nature of the crime, deputies with our Major Crimes Unit responded to assume the investigation. They interviewed neighbors and other persons of interest that provided investigators that information leading to the suspect.
“The complainant was a friend who put us in touch with the caretaker, who then led us to the suspect,” he added. “The suspect was an acquaintance.”
Cope, described by officials as a transient, was charged after detectives linked him to the crime scene using evidence found at the scene and on his person, officials reported. He was taken to the Lee County Jail.
Neighbors say they were stunned by the crime.
“It was such a shock to us,” said Nancy Holz. “We were all scared to death until they got who they thought was the perpetrator.”
She said she felt the neighborhood was a very safe place to live, and still does.
“He was a very nice person,” she said of Rogers. “He would buy extra plants and flowers at his own expense, plant them around and take care of them.”
Rogers was wheelchair bound, said neighbors, but always active.
“He would ride up Rte. 41 on his wheelchair and have breakfast many mornings, and I saw him shopping recently.”
Neighbor Hazel Sparks agreed that she still feels safe in her neighborhood.
“It’s a safe place to live — nothing has ever happened here before in the four years I’ve been here.”
Fran Cunigan called Rogers “a very nice man.”
He was also very intellegent, she said.
“He had two books published and I read one; it was very good. It had poems and was about his life.
“I can’t believe someone did that to him,” Cunigan added. “He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He never bothered anyone and he was always working on his plants.”
An autopsy by the The District 21 Medical Examiner’s Office is pending