Three days after the murder, the Herts and Cambs Reporter and Royston Crow carried the following report:
SHOCKING TRAGEDY AT THE GABLES, MELDRETH
A BOY SHOOTS HIS MOTHER
Last week at this time, the Meldreth and Melbourn people were discussing the question of a gas and water supply, but this week something much more horrifying is being discussed. To have a tragedy enacted in their midst, of a young lad of about 15, shooting his mother with a revolver, in a room at their home, “The Gables”, which occurred on Tuesday evening last, and which is described in the details below, is something that the quiet peaceful little village of Meldreth can hardly realize.
“The Gables” at Meldreth, is a picturesque old house and as its name implies has many gables. The picturesqueness has been somewhat destroyed by the addition of a more modern wing of red tiles. It is situated opposite Meldreth Court, and was formerly the residence of A.H. Irvine, Esq., and we are indebted to Robert H. Clark, photographer, of High Street, Royston, for this photograph of the house which appears above this notice.
The window of the breakfast room in which the tragedy took place is shown just above the small hand-gate in the photograph. In front of the residence is a well kept garden, just now clothed in all the fresh beauty of spring and the walls of the old part of the house are covered with creepers, just budding into life. The drawn blinds and the silence prevailing tell us that death has entered this peaceful looking dwelling. Death in a shocking form, for a mother has been shot dead by her young son. Frank Rodgers was only 15 years of age last November and is the second son of Mr. W.A. Rodgers, a well known London solicitor. The family have only resided at Meldreth during the past 18 months or so, and have not made many friends in the district. An elder son is, however, well known in Royston, being a member of the signalling section of the Volunteer company.
On Tuesday last, the evening on which the tragedy took place, there were only the mother, two daughters and two sons at home, two other sons being away from home. At about 8.30 after partaking of supper together, the family left the room, leaving the mother alone. Frank went upstairs and the two sisters went into the drawing room. After some little time, Frank entered the room where his sister Winifred was playing the piano, and said to her, “I have shot mother, I thought it the best thing to do” or words to that effect. His sister who had not heard any sound of shooting, rushed to her mother’s assistance and found the poor woman had struggled from the supper room to a small couch in the hall. Medical aid was summoned but life was pronounced to be extinct. The shot from the revolver appears to have entered the head through the lower part of the left jaw. The revolver it is stated is the property of an elder brother, and one that had been used in the late South African war. It had only been loaded in one chamber, this being the one discharged.
Before the doctor arrived the lad Frank had taken his young sister Queenie to whom he was much attached, over to Mrs. Thurley at the British Queen, and with whom and her family he appeared to have been on terms of friendship. He appeared to be perfectly cool and natural in his manner, and asked Mrs Thurley if Queenie might stay there for the night as there had been a little upset at home and he had shot his mother. Mrs Thurley, judging from the boy’s manner did not attribute anything alarming to this statement and imagined there might have been some slight accident from a toy pistol or something similar. However, leaving Queenie at her home she accompanied the boy back to The Gables and there learned the shocking news of the tragedy. Frank returned to the British Queen and quite unconcerned sat down and read the newspaper. No one from his demeanour would have imagined he had been associated with the terrible tragedy that had taken place only such a short time before. When the police officer arrived he was still engaged in reading the paper, and quietly submitted to arrest, and was conveyed to Melbourn Police Station.
“Do you know the lad” was a question asked some workmen in the village on the day of the inquest. The answer was “Oh yes, he often came and talked to us and a nicer gentleman we never wish to see, we only hope he will get off”.
On Wednesday afternoon the coroner, Mr. A.J. Lyon, came to Meldreth for the purpose of holding an inquest, but on the application of the father, the coroner postponed the inquest until the following day in order that the boy might have a legal representation present at the inquiry.