Missing Persons

Rosemary’s Secret : Rosemary Christensen

posted: 09/27/12
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Missing: August 1999

Real estate agents at the Century 21 office in Belleair, FL realize something is wrong when their coworker, Rosemary Christensen, fails to show up for work Monday morning, August 30, 1999. Colleague Katherine MacKinnon remembers Rosemary showing a property to a potential buyer the previous Thursday evening, but did not see her the following day at work. The police question Rosemary's 47-year-old husband, Robert Glen Temple. He claims to have seen her that Thursday night at their condo. The following day, he admits to police that he traveled with his 22-year-old girlfriend, Lesley Stewart, to Decatur, IL to visit his family from a previous relationship. His wife apparently knew he was going on the trip but didn't know he'd be traveling with his girlfriend. He says he tried calling his wife from the road but never got her on the phone.

As the police continue to search for 43-year-old Rosemary, they become more suspicious of Temple. Coworkers know that there was a history of domestic violence between Temple and Rosemary. Temple has also had been in trouble with the law previously. In 1974 when he was 24, Temple pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of his then girlfriend's infant son, who had been discovered dead in a bathtub of a hotel room covered with bruises and cuts. He maintains his innocence in both matters, but aware he might be considered a "person of interest," Temple meets with a local attorney, accompanied by girlfriend Stewart. The attorney advises the couple that they should retain separate council, and Stewart is referred to Jay Hebert, another attorney in town. Hebert's discussions with Stewart remain private, under attorney-client confidentiality rules, for the next nine years.

Meanwhile, investigators search Robert and Rosemary's condo and discover the carpet ripped up, the walls freshly painted, and an item containing a trace of blood. They also learn through credit card statements that Temple had purchased cleaning and painting supplies the morning of August 27. Pinellas County Sherriff's Detectives are a little suspicious that Temple bears some responsibility for his wife Rosemary's disappearance, but there isn't enough evidence to lodge any charges.

The case goes cold when Temple and his girlfriend leave Florida, traveling around the country for the next nine years in their mobile trailer. But their life together is no vacation. Stewart allegedly lives under constant fear of Temple. In 2005 the couple finally settles in northern California, having a daughter together. Three years later, in August 2008, Stewart attends a family reunion in Washington State. But Temple allegedly issues a warning -- if Lesley doesn't return, he will kill their daughter and then himself. Stewart makes the trip to Washington and, with 520 miles between them, makes a phone call to her attorney, Jay Hebert.

Hebert remembers the call vividly. "She said 'this is Lesley. Do you remember meeting with me nine years ago?' Of course as soon as she said nine years, I knew exactly who she was." Their previous conversations had weighed heavily on Hebert's conscience -- for, although Lesley discussed clues to Rosemary Christensen's disappearance, Hebert was bound by attorney-client privilege not to discuss the bombshell information she shared. Now all these years later Lesley tells him she is ready to reveal her secret to the authorities.

She tells the authorities that on the night of Aug 26, 1999, she returned home to discover multiple voice messages left by Temple, insisting that she meet him at the condo he shared with his wife, Rosemary. When she arrives, she allegedly finds him with a drink in hand and then discovers Rosemary's lifeless body on the bedroom carpet. Temple allegedly warns Lesley that if she doesn't help him cover up the murder, he will track her down and kill her. She apparently obliges. Lesley says they stuffed Rosemary's body into a green plastic storage bin and then drive to a remote patch of woods to hastily bury her body.

In early September 2008, Stewart leads authorities to the spot where she helped Temple bury Rosemary's body. As they remove the body from the ground, Hebert recalls how Stewart became hysterical; damning Temple for all the years of pain and suffering he had allegedly put her through.

On September 9, 2008, Robert Glen Temple is arrested for the murder of his wife, Rosemary Christensen. He is currently awaiting trial.

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