Fairfield Police Search Home Tied to 2 Deaths

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NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has learned that Fairfield police carried out a new search of the home of a San Francisco Sheriff’s supervisor in the aftermath of the discovery of the skeletal remains of his former boyfriend, missing biotech engineer Zachery Rose.

While authorities are not commenting on the search, NBC Bay Area previously reported they have never ruled out the owner of the home, San Francisco Sheriff’s Lt. Phil Lasater, in the disappearance and death of Rose.

Rose, 27 years old when he disappeared, was last seen at Lasater’s Shorey Way home in February 2018.  His remains were just recovered from a field about a mile away from the house, nearly three years later, on Jan. 16.

That discovery came eight years after William Volkl, Lasater’s husband of 15 years,  had died mysteriously at the same address. Authorities have not cleared Lasater in that case either, and authorities say the 2012 case remains an open police investigation.  

Lasater did not return calls seeking comment, but in 2018 said in a phone interview that he is the victim of a smear campaign by overzealous, homophobic Fairfield police – allegations investigators deny.

Rose’s mother, Robyn, drove out from Arkansas after learning her son’s remains had been identified.  She told us in an interview that while she has pressed Fairfield police for answers, she is willing to wait however long it takes to finally learn what happened.

“I can’t just leave it alone,” she said. “He was a wonderful man -- just beginning his life and career – and it’s gone.”

Zachery Rose left work from a Hercules biotech firm on Friday before the Super Bowl of 2018. On that Sunday, Lasater called 911 and told authorities Rose had disappeared at 10:00 Saturday night, leaving behind his cell phone, wallet, computer and pickup truck.

Lasater said Rose apparently walked away, leaving the door open.

But Robyn Rose insists the story doesn’t add up. Her son would never leave without his phone, she says.

“Zach didn’t walk anywhere -- voluntarily’’ she added. “Especially late at night in the middle of winter.”

Meanwhile, Crystal Travis is haunted by the suspicious death of her cousin, Lasater’s late husband, William “Billy” Volkl.

The Solano County coroner was unable to determine what caused Volkl’s death in 2012. While the 41-year-old had a history of heart problems and obesity, the coroner noted that he also suffered an unexplained blunt force injury to the neck. The final report cites that neck injury in not ruling out homicide.

Travis says she’s certain that Volkl, someone she considered a brother, did not die of natural causes.

“I never once believed that it was an accidental death or because he was obese,” she said. “Nobody could convince me that it wasn’t anything other than a homicide.”

Travis says she has bonded with Robyn Rose during their search for answers for what happened to their loved ones.

 “I just want justice for them both, I do, ” Travis said. “I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

“The questions are frustrating,” said Robyn Rose, who is planning to take his remains back to his home state.  “But I do want to find out what happened to my son and whoever is responsible, and for justice to be served.”

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