Brief Lives of Famous Men #2: Roger Scaggs

Some years ago, I was transferred to the Austin office as a VP and Board member of a firm we had recently acquired a half-interest in. One of the execs I’d be working with was Roger Scaggs.

Everybody loved Roger, although he’d been acting strangely the past few months, I was told. Inappropriately informal attire for a VP – to an extent noticed even in Texas – was one concern.

The week I arrived, Roger’s wife was murdered, seated at her piano in their home. The shock of this loss was aggravated by Roger’s arrest, the following week, for her murder.

The police were pretty sure that Roger was their man when they found the murder weapons, fresh with fingerprints, and Roger’s clothing, in a dumpster outside our office, several miles from Roger’s home. It turned out that the dumpster would have been dumped the day before, but the dump contractor had failed to show up. Such are the small ironies that keep the lone-star gods amused.

Roger had money, and fought the charges for two years, all of which time he was out on bail. He continued to work at our company, although he seemed a little distracted.

Roger was finally convicted, the only murderer I’ve ever known. Years later, he applied for an FCC radio license, which was denied, the record * showing that “Mr. Scaggs was convicted for the March 6, 1996, homicide of Penny Scaggs, his wife of thirty-five years. The record in that case showed that Mr. Scaggs beat his wife to death with a galvanized lead pipe and then stabbed her several times in their home. Mr. Scaggs was convicted of murder by a jury, sentenced to a prison term of thirty-two years, and fined ten thousand dollars.”

That ten thousand dollars was a brilliant anticlimax, showing that the jury had at last completed their catharsis of pity and fear and returned to quotidian concerns.

Once in the early days, working together on a report, Roger had looked over at me and said, wistfully, “O.J. got off…”.

* DA/FCC DA-03-3738 (November 21, 2003)

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