How the tragedy was reported in Australian newspapers
The following report appeared in The Advertiser in Adelaide, South Australia on 17th May 1904:
KILLED HIS MOTHER
A BOY MURDERER
“FOR QUEENIE’S SAKE”
(From our Special Correspondent.)
London – April 15 1904
A tragedy of an astounding character is reported-from the little Cambridgeshire village of Meldreth, where a lad of 15 is alleged to have killed his mother with a revolver. Meldreth is nine miles south of Cambridge, and here, at a comfortably country house known as “The Gables” Mrs Georgina Rogers, the wife of a London solicitor, has been residing for the past 18 months with her son Frank and two young daughters.
On Tuesday night the family had dinner very happily together about 8 o’clock, and when it was concluded, the two little girls retired to the drawing-room, leaving their mother with Frank, who wanted ‘to talk things over’ with her. Half an hour later the elder of the two girls, alarmed at hearing the report of an explosion, ran out of the drawing-room, and was terrified to find her mother lying motionless on the door of the entrance hall. Frank was standing by his mother’s side, and the girl saw that he had a revolver in his hand. “What is it, Frank?” she cried. “What has happened to mother?” “I have shot her,” the lad replied calmly. “I thought it was best.”
The girl sent a servant for Dr. Octavius Ennion, who lives close by, but he found that Mrs. Rogers was dead, having apparently been shot through the heart.
The Lad’s Cool Conduct
Before the doctor arrived the lad had taken his youngest sister, Queenie, over to a neighbour’s house, with the request that she might be allowed to stay there for the night. He appeared to be perfectly collected and natural in his manner, and returned at a leisurely pace to The Gables. When the constables arrived at The Gables they found Frank quietly reading a newspaper. To their enquiries he replied “Yes, I shot mother. I thought it best in the circumstances.” He refuted to make any further statement, and was taken into custody and lodged in the police cells at Melbourn, a mile and -a half away.
Mr. Coroner Lyon arrived at “The Gables” on Wednesday afternoon for the purpose of holding an inquest, but in consequence of some misunderstanding as to the date no arrangements for the enquiry had been made by the police. At the request of Mr. Rogers, the husband of the dead lady, the inquest was adjourned until the following afternoon.
The lad Frank, who was brought before the magistrates at Melbourn on Thursday morning, is described as a bright, intelligent, and happy lad, and general incredulity was expressed in Meldreth at his alleged association with so terrible a crime.
An Affectionate Family
All the members of the family have been well known in. the village, and there is no suggestion that they have ever lived on other than the most affectionate terms. Since his arrest Frank Rogers has maintained silence, but does not appear to be in any way affected by the tragedy. When the charge was read over to him he intimated’ that any explanation he had to make would be given to the magistrates. The police are inclined to the opinion that the tragedy, if it occurred in the manner alleged, and was not an accident, is one of the class known as “imitative crime”. The lad was very fond of reading the newspapers, and among those found in the room in which he was arrested was one containing an account of the tragedy at Small Heath, Birmingham, in which a boy of fifteen was charged with fatally stabbing his mother with a file.
At the inquest on the dead woman on Thursday it transpired that Mrs. Rogers had given way to drink, and in consequence the home life of the children had been the reverse of happy. The husband was absent at the time of the tragedy, as also was the eldest son, to whom the revolver belonged. The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of willful murder against Frank Rogers, who, so far as outward appearances went, was the calmest person in the room during the inquest. He showed no more feeling during the proceedings than he might be expected to do if charged with shooting some protected bird. To his elder sister he said, “I’ve done it for the best, and for Queenie’s sake. She could not be brought up to the life we have led for the past few years.”
The following report appeared in The Daily News (Perth, Australia) on Wednesday 8th June 1904
VOICES AND VISIONS
BOY’S ANSWER TO A CHARGE OF MATRICIDE
At Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, on Monday, April 26, the lad, Frank Rodgers, was charged with murdering his mother by shooting her at Meldreth on April 12. Mr F J Williamson, of the Treasury, prosecuted, and Mr F Low KC wit Mr Henle, defended. The boy had for solicitors his father and uncle.
The first witness was Miss Winifred Rodgers, who said there had been no quarrel at supper time on the day of the murder.
Mr Williamson: What was the condition of your mother at the time? -Miss Rodgers: she was under the influence of drink. Continuing, Miss Rodgers said that “Queenie” was her only sister – Georgina Marion was her name. -Your brother said “Queenie” could not be brought up to the life you had been living. What life had you been living? -Very unhappy. -Unhappy through what? -Through mother taking to drink.
Cross-examined by Mr Low she said Frank was very fond of his mother. -Who among the children was your mother’s favourite? -“Frank” was the reply. And in consequence of this, had you given him a nickname? -Yes, in the family we called him “mother’s boy” she said, a smile coming over her face as she made the statement. She added that for the past month Frank had been very quiet and irritable, and had had violent headaches. For the previous six weeks he had had a great amount of bleeding from the nose every morning.
Dr O R Ennion said he had attended the accused for violent headaches and bleeding from the nose. Witness saw him at the court after the first examination.
And was it then he said something about hearing voices? -Yes. He said: on the night I shot my mother I went home and had supper. Afterwards I went upstairs and got the revolver on a sudden impulse, and went down to the breakfast room. I felt an almost irresistible impulse to shoot mother. I refrained, however, and went out. The impulse came again, and I went back again into the house. A voice distinctly told me to do it. It said, “Do it, and do it quickly.” I do not remember firing or pointing the pistol, but I remember hearing a muffled report, and I then stumbled against the door. That is all I know.
Did he say anything about his mother being behind him? -He told me that for two or three months he has constantly thought that his mother appeared behind him, and when looking over his shoulder he caught a glimpse of his mother, who had then disappeared.
Dr Ennion further said he had heard that Mrs Rogers’ uncle had died in an asylum and that her father had also been addicted to drink. That being so it would materially affect the boy Frank and his responsibility for this act.
William George Rodgers, 21, the elder brother of the prisoner, said the revolver was his. He had left it, with several cartridges, in his drawer. When he got home at nine o’clock on the night of the occurrence he went to the British Queen and saw Frank reading a paper. He said to him, “Frank, do you know what you have done:” He replied, “I did it for Queenie’s sake.” The brother followed this up by asking, “Do you really know what you have done?” and Frank replied, “Oh, don’t worry me.” About three weeks before the occurrence, when his mother had been very intoxicated, Frank told them at breakfast that he dreamed he had strangled her. He had heard that in January his brother Frank had at a good deal of risk to himself saved his mother from getting under a train at Royston station – at the level crossing.
At the close of the evidence the chairman asked the prisoner if he wished to say anything. The boy shook his head, and said, “No, sir.” He was then committed for trial at the assizes in custody and alter was taken back to Cambridge in a closed carriage. Before he left he was allowed a few minutes’ conversation with his friends, and he asked with great eagerness after his little sister Queenie, who is six years old.
Frank Rodgers once saved his mother’s life
How Frank Rodgers once saved his mother’s life was described to an “Evening News” representative by an eye-witness, a Royston gentleman: -I was at Royston railway station one afternoon in January,” said this gentleman, when Mrs Rodgers walked down the slope at the end of the platform in order to cross to the other side. Frank was with her, and neither appeared to notice that the London express was rapidly approaching. Mrs Rodgers, who was walking unsteadily as though she was giddy, heard the roar and looked up as if dazed, but Frank darted forward, getting between his mother and the express, and seizing her body he managed to swing her out of the path of the train. It was a very brave act, for the express was only a few yards away, and both mother and son were almost drawn under the wheels by the draught.