James Patterson’s Til Murder Do Us Part is investigating the murder of Jessica Bergsten by skateboarding celebrity Mark Anthony ‘Gator’ Rogowski in California in 1991.
Rogowski had become famous throughout the 1980s alongside other skaters such as Tony Hawks and Steve Caballero, but by the 1990s, his status and behavior were both on a downward trajectory.
The switch in popularity from Vert Skating to Street Skating badly affected Rogowski’s career prospects. By 1991 he was having financial problems and was suffering from injury and addiction.
In March 1991, 22-year-old Jessica Bergsten moved from Arizona to the San Diego area and got in contact with Rogowski, who was the ex-boyfriend of her friend.
On March 21, the pair spent the day together as Rogowski had agreed to show Jessica around the San Diego area. He later recanted how they had gone back to his condo to watch movies and drink wine.
The killer would later admit to the police that he had whacked Bergsten in the back to the head with a metal club before handcuffing her to his bed. He then repeatedly raped her.
Afterward, when she began to kick and scream, he put her in a surfboard bag to prevent his neighbors from hearing the noise.
Rogowski then placed his hand over her mouth until she stopped breathing. He then buried her remains in a shallow grave in the desert near Ocotillo.
Her badly decomposed remains were discovered by hikers a few weeks later, on April 10.
Mark ‘Gator’ Rogowski confessed to killing Jessica Bergsten
Rogowski made a confession to his minister, who then encouraged him to turn himself into the cops. He approached the police on April 11, made a full confession, and was subsequently charged with first-degree murder.
In March 1992, Rogowski was sentenced to 31 years in prison, 25 for the murder and 6 for the rape.
In 2019, a parole board recommended that he be paroled; however, this decision was overturned last year by Governor Newsom, who stated that the killer needed to gain a “deeper understanding” of his crimes.
More from James Patterson on Investigation Discovery
Follow the links to read about more crimes investigated by crime novelist James Patterson on ID.
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James Patterson’s Til Murder Do Us Part airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.