Mark “Gator” Rogowski
As a teenager living in California in the 1980s, Rogowski was in the right place at the right time, and with the right skills: He was among the first wave of professional skateboarders who brought mainstream attention to the sport. By age 14, he was winning competitions around the state, and by 17, was earning more than $100,000 a year in winnings and endorsements, including the bestselling signature Gator board, designed for him by boardmaker Vision.
But while cohorts like Tony Hawk became legends, Rogowski self-destructed, drinking and partying hard … and then, things got really dark. In 1991, shortly after his girlfriend broke up with him, he ran into a woman named Jessica Bergsten, a friend of his ex whom he hadn’t seen in awhile. He later said that Bergsten reminded him too much of his ex—and that’s why he severely beat her, then sexually assaulted and strangled her to death. Rogowski left her body in a surfboard bag and buried her in the California desert. Rogowski was later sentenced to 31 years to life, but is eligible for parole. He was denied it in 2011, however, and we don’t expect him to get the greenlight to freedom anytime soon.