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Skateboard Star Confesses Killing

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mark (Gator) Anthony, an internationally renowned professional skateboard champion, was being held without bail Wednesday after telling police he that he killed a woman at his home in Carlsbad and buried her body in the desert.

Anthony, 24, who friends say had recently changed his name from Mark Rogowski, told San Diego police Tuesday that he had “physically and sexually assaulted the victim and subsequently strangled her.”

He then led investigators from the Carlsbad Police Department to a patch of desert in Ocotillo, just inside the Imperial County line and not far from Interstate 8, where he said he buried the victim’s body.

Investigators from the Imperial County coroner’s office recovered skeletal remains from the site on April 10, coroner investigator Ralph Smith said Wednesday. Smith said a camper had found the body and reported the discovery to authorities.

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Smith said the identity of the victim would not be released until Monday, pending verification of dental records. He said the woman was a resident of San Diego, in her early 20s, who had been reported missing by her father in Tucson, Ariz., on March 29.

Smith said the suspect was the same Mark Anthony listed as one of the top 10 skateboarders in the world. In 1988, when The Times published a profile of Anthony, he was listed in the top five and was then in the midst of a 38-city skateboard tour called Swatch Impact Live.

And, he had recently appeared in a skateboarding video titled “Psycho Skate.”

San Diego Police Department spokesman Bill Robinson said Wednesday that Anthony was at one time the national skateboard champion. But Anthony told police that, in recent years, he had become a “reborn” Christian who limited his skateboarding to “demonstrations for church charities.”

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Investigators said Wednesday that Anthony turned himself in on Tuesday to San Diego police, who alerted the Carlsbad Police Department.

“Basically, I think that his conscience had been bothering him, and he showed up at the police department,” said Carlsbad Lt. Don Lewis. “It’s fairly unusual, but you couldn’t call it unheard of . . . . We believe that he is entirely credible. He was very open and honest with us and led us right to the site. That was indeed the exact site Imperial County reported to us.”

Anthony is being held at County Jail in Vista. He was booked on suspicion of murder, rape and assault with a deadly weapon. Anthony does not have a previous police record, Lewis said. Anthony is scheduled to be arraigned today in Vista Municipal Court.

The arrest left local skateboard enthusiasts stunned and saddened.

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“My initial reaction is extreme shock--Mark is extremely well known in the world of skateboarding,” said skateboarder Karen Stubkjaer, who described Anthony as a colleague and acquaintance she had met at the shop where she works, Hamel’s Action Sports.

“I can’t believe it--I saw him just a couple of days ago,” said an employee at Carlsbad Skate Park, where Anthony often skateboarded, and who asked not to be quoted by name. “I’ve known Mark for more than a year. He always seemed to be a nice guy.

“In fact, he had recently become real religious. He was going through one of those Christian reborn things. He was really into it. He had been hanging out around here with some guy from ‘the group,’ as he called it, and they were always carrying Bibles.”

Stubkjaer said that Anthony’s recent religious conversion was the subject of much discussion within the world of skateboarding. She said that Anthony had dumped his former sponsor, Vision Sports of Santa Ana, and taken up with a Canadian-based company called Fish Lips.

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“He was putting all these religious symbols on his boards,” she said. “Everybody was talking about it, and about how he had never been religious at any time before that.

“He used to make a lot of money but his popularity had been declining,” Stubkjaer said.

Stubkjaer said Anthony appeared to be someone to whom fame and the big-time money of professional skateboarding had come all too quickly. She described him as “arrogant, especially at the peak of his career” about three years ago.

A spokesman for Vision Sports in Santa Ana, Anthony’s former sponsor, declined comment.

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Edward Jones, a neighbor of Anthony’s in the 3700 block of Garfield Street in Carlsbad, where Anthony told police the killing took place, said police cars had swarmed over the area since late Tuesday. He said that, late Wednesday, police tape continued to cordon off the 10-unit condominium building where Anthony lived.

In his 1988 interview with The Times, Anthony rhapsodized about the joy of skateboarding, a sport he had followed, at ramps in Linda Vista and North County for years. Anthony was reportedly from the East Coast originally.

“It’s so addictive,” he said. “I often get scared. Often. It’s a matter of pushing the limits. If you’re doing the same thing for years and years you get used to it and become accustomed to it, but me and my peers are always pushing the limits, going higher, faster, longer, and that’s what gives you your excitement, the fear factor.”

Times staff writers Leslie Keesling and Caroline Lemke contributed to this report.

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