SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The death of Broadway actor George Rose, thought last week to have been the result of an automobile accident, Thursday turned into a grisly drama with four men, including his adopted son, charged with his murder.
At a news conference it was learned that the versatile character actor was held for eight hours before he was beaten to death on May 4 and that attempts were made to make the death look like an accident.
The death of the British-born Rose, 68, winner of Tony awards for "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" and a revival of "My Fair Lady," had originally been blamed on his car running off the road and into a ditch.
Police and doctors also said Thursday that cocaine was found on Rose and that laboratory tests performed in Miami showed traces of a cocaine derivative in his body at the time of his death.
A statement read by police spokesman Col. Aquiles Cruz Gomez at a news conference said three men were arrested and a fourth suspect was at large.
The statement said the three "confessed to police that they planned the crime when they noticed Mr. George Rose felt certain amorous weaknesses for another 14-year-old minor."
The three--Rose's adopted son, Domingo Antonio Ralfe Vazquez, nicknamed Juan; the young man's natural father, Juan Antonio Vazquez Padilla, and the youth's uncle, Maximo Padilla Vazquez--appeared at the news conference and told reporters they took part in the actor's death. The fourth man was identified as Luis Manuel Toribio.
"What I really wanted was to take revenge on the American Rose because of his homosexual activities, since he was hurting a lot of boys in this sector, in addition to mine, whom he had already prostituted since the age of 13," said the statement from Juan Antonio Vazquez Padilla that was distributed to reporters by police.
The statement said his son, 18, the youth's uncle and another man to whom he paid $200 agreed to take Rose to an isolated location and kill him.
On May 4, when Rose was driving his car to the city of Santiago with his adopted son, the three other men waited by the side of the road near the north coast town of Sosua and forced the car to stop.
They got in, leaving the youth behind, and drove to a nearby farm, where they held Rose for eight hours before killing him, it said.
The father's statement said the men took the money from Rose's pockets and divided it, but left his documents intact. They then put Rose's body in the car and drove to a small ditch, where "we flipped the car over to make it look like a traffic accident."
Results of an autopsy released Monday had described the death as accidental, but pathologist Sergio Sarita told reporters Thursday that the final report indicated "the death was not an accident, but a homicide."
Rose had owned a beach home outside Sosua, about 15 miles east of Puerto Plata, for the last nine years although his permanent home was in New York.
His adopted son, who lived in the house, said in a sworn statement released by police that he met Rose six years ago when he was a student and that Rose suggested adopting him in 1985.
He said his real father agreed and the adoption was legal.
The youth said in the statement that on April 30 he told his father that Rose was returning to the island in a few days and that "I felt bad because he had shown he felt a certain weakness for a minor . . . who lived in our house."
Rose, who had lived in New York City since 1961, was a versatile actor who was as much at home playing Shakespeare as he was in a comedy or a musical. He preferred the stage, but also appeared in scores of motion pictures and television productions.