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Religious wife brutally killed.

TO their neighbours, Roger and Penny Scaggs had the perfect marriage.

The intensely religious couple had been together for 35 years and seemed very happy.

Penny, 54, even held classes at their local church, giving biblical advice on how to make marriage work. She said that a woman should love her husband unconditionally and obey his every order.

But there was a darker side to their seemingly perfect marriage. Penny's 58-year-old husband had strong sexual urges and when his wife could not - or would not - give in to them, he started an affair with a 28-year-old employee at his data processing com pany.

He later described this passionate liaison as "animal lust."

The affair raged for a year before violent tragedy struck.

Penny was playing the piano in the couple's luxurious home in Austin, Texas, when someone crept up behind her and viciously battered her over the head and neck with a heavy metal pipe.

Then, as she lay already dead on the floor, her attacker stabbed her seven times with a butcher's knife before snatching the jewellery from her body.

Roger Scaggs told police he found her when he returned home late from work. When asked what he thought had happened, he said that perhaps a vagrant had spotted his wife's large diamond ring on her finger as she sat near the window, came in through the un locked back door and attacked her.

He spoke coolly and without emotion, apparently unaffected by his wife's violent death.

But that was the kind of man Roger Scaggs was. He did not show his emotions easily. Later, his defence would say he was dealing with his problems like a man.

However, he also caused talk by showing up at the funeral wearing a brightly coloured jacket emblazoned with a rampant eagle.

The murder weapon and jewellery were found the morning after the killing, in a skip behind Scaggs's office. They also found five latex gloves stained with Penny Scaggs's blood and inside three of them were near perfect latent fingerprints. All belonged t o Roger Scaggs.

Roger Scaggs was charged with murdering his wife. He denied it. But the news stunned their friends and neighbours, splitting them into two camps - those who believed he was a cold-blooded killer and those who did not.

It took two-and-a-half years for the case to come to trial, each side blaming the other for the delays.

One of the biggest blows to the prosecution was the disappearance of Vanessa Ferguson, with whom Scaggs was said to be having the torrid affair. She had closed all her bank accounts, cut off her phone and left town.

Both sides wanted to talk to her - the prosecution to confirm the existence of the love match, the defence that she saw their client at work at the time the murder took place. But all attempts to track her down failed. She had apparently vanished into th in air.

The DA believed he had a cast iron case. They had motive - the affair. They had means - the metal pipe and butcher's knife found near Scaggs's office. And they had opportunity - he confirmed he'd returned home for something to eat before going back to th e office.

However, the defence had some surprises for them. Material found under the dead woman's fingernails suggested she had fought with her attacker. DNA testing did not match it to Roger Scaggs.

The prosecution insisted this material was actually contamination at the lab from an unrelated case, although this was vehemently denied by their own expert witness.

The prosecution then had to put another expert witness on the stand to contradict their original expert.

This was all highly unusual as normally it is the defence who attack DNA evidence, while the prosecution claim contamination is not possible.

And there was more. Investigators found a small hair on the knife which did not come from either the suspect or the victim. Unidentified fingerprints were found throughout the house. No attempts had been made to match head hair found in a hallway.

And a defence expert said it was unlikely for such clear prints to have been left on the inside of a rubber glove after such an attack. If the killer had worn the gloves, he said, prints would have been smudged.

Lawyers insisted that the latent prints had been left in the gloves when Scaggs wore them while cleaning his private plane. The real killer had taken them while ransacking the house and dumped them near Scaggs's office in an attempt to frame him.

Did Roger Scaggs brutally murder his loving wife to leave the way clear to marry someone else? Or was he the victim of shoddy police work and a frame-up by some unknown killer?

You decide...


Not guilty

Turn to Funday (pg??) for the jury's verdict
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 3, 1999
Previous Article:Dear Wendy: Sex life has lost its spice after divorce.
Next Article:Wrap up for a big cover-up.

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