A Northridge parapsychologist who wrote books on phenomena ranging from near-death experiences to poltergeist activity was found slain in his home and Los Angeles police said Friday they had few clues to help them find the killer.
D. Scott Rogo, 40, was found at 1 p.m. Thursday stabbed to death on the floor of his home in the 18100 block of Schoenborn Street. A patrol officer found the victim after being called to the house by a neighbor who became suspicious because he thought a back yard sprinkler at Rogo’s house had been running for two days.
The officer turned off the sprinkler and found a side door to the house partially open, Police Lt. L.A. Durrer said. Inside, the officer found Rogo dead on the floor but no sign that the home had been ransacked.
“We haven’t determined if anything was taken,” Durrer said. “We haven’t figured out what the motive was.”
However, detectives said there was no evidence to link the slaying to Rogo’s profession as a writer and investigator of psychic phenomena including telepathy, clairvoyance and extrasensory perception. The victim lived alone and primarily worked out of a home office where he had a large library on the subject.
“It doesn’t have any appearance of being related to his work,” police Detective Michael Brandt said.
Rogo, a lifelong San Fernando Valley resident, wrote 30 books with titles such as “The Poltergeist Experience,” “Beyond Reality,” “Phone Call from the Dead” and “NAD: A Study of Unusual Otherworld Experiences,” which was published when he was a 19-year-old student at Cal State Northridge. Many of the books were widely sold in general interest bookstores.
Associates said Rogo was considered a serious investigator of strange phenomena and that he had also published articles in Parapsychology Review and Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. He was also a lecturer on parapsychology at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, Calif.
Raymond Bayless, former president of the Southern California Society for Psychical Research, said Rogo was an expert in many fields of paranormal phenomena and had an international reputation among similar investigators.
“He was top rank,” said Bayless, who lives in Los Angeles. “This is a tremendous loss to the field.”
In an interview for a 1984 story on the Southern California-based psychical research society, Rogo told The Times that he found “a lot more acceptance of paranormal phenomena out here than I do back East.”
“California is kind of a center of New Age thinking,” Rogo said. “So the occult, of which parapsychology is sort of a more respectable aspect, is just more popular out here. You are much more likely to be asked what your sign is at a cocktail party in Los Angeles than you are in Boston or New York.”
Bayless said that Rogo was once the top examiner for the now-defunct group. He said Rogo frequently investigated reports of poltergeist activity and other phenomena such as automatic writing, spiritual possession and extrasensory perception. “He used only scientific methods to determine what caused the phenomena,” Bayless said.
The victim’s mother, Winifred Rogo of North Hollywood, said her son became interested in unusual psychic phenomena as a teen-ager after having what he believed was an out-of-body experience. He later described the phenomenon in a book as occurring when “an element of an individual’s consciousness appears to detach itself physically from the body and continues to function independently of it for a short time.”
“He became interested in the subject when he was in junior high school and he was always very serious about it,” Winifred Rogo said. “He investigated strange phenomena, but it wasn’t dangerous. I don’t think it had anything to do with what has happened. I think it was a prowler, someone off the street.”
D. Scott Rogo lived on a quiet street of nicely kept homes and kept mostly to himself.
“He worked in his house and was a writer and I knew him to say hello to,” said next-door neighbor George W. Foster, who added that he did not know the subject of Rogo’s books.
“He kept to himself mostly,” Foster said. “But what happened was purely unexpected.”
Staff writer Myrna Oliver contributed to this report.