Mark Anthony Rogowski, or "Gator" as he was better known, was one of skateboarding's biggest rock stars in the 80's. He was good looking, charming, and arrogant, all the makings of a lasting celebrity. That is probably why his downfall was so surprising.
Gator was born in Brooklyn and moved to Escondido, CA with his mother following her divorce. In 1974, at the age of 7, he took up skateboarding. By 10, he was getting attention. By 14, he turned pro and was pulling in money for the family. By 17, he was making over $100,000 a year.
Gator was incredibly famous, and lived a wild life. He would have a photo in every skating magazine, gave skating tips in Sports Illustrated for Kids, and won tons of contests. He appeared in the Tom Petty video Free Falling with his girlfriend, Brandi. He drank, smoked, and did blow with her a lot too.
After an incident at a party where he jumped out of a second story window, Gator found God. He talked with a local surfer/evangelist who eventually became his mentor, and began preaching to everyone he could. Brandi left him because he said they couldn't continue to have premarital sex and use drugs. This affected him deeply.
Gator became extremely edgy, and started calling
Brandi and harassing her. At one point, he broke into her home and stole all the gifts he had given her, including the car. Sadly, this wouldn't be the last of the things he would do on his downward spiral.
Brandi's friend from out of town, Jessica, unaware of their break-up, called Mark a few weeks later, asking him to show her the sights. Mark complied, and later brought her back to his apartment. There, he beat her with his car steering wheel lock, raped her for two to three hours, and strangled her in a surfboard bag. He then took her body 100 miles out of town and buried her in the desert.
Mark Rogowski turned himself in for the crime two months later, and said that his motivation for the crime was a misplaced hate for his ex-girlfriend. He made no excuses, and said that his lifestyle was terrible, and had no good influences prior to his conversion, including episodes of sexual abuse and pornography addiction. He is currently serving a life sentence in the San Diego prison, and will be eligible for parole when he is 43.