Murder suspect Charles Kenneth Hodges has a side to him that most people haven't seen, according to a man who got to know him well recently.
It's a side that depicts a caring individual who is concerned for the welfare of his ex-wife and young son.It shows a muscular, health-conscious man who enjoyed riding bicycles and bragged about his endurance.
That's primarily what Jerry Roper saw in Hodges while Hodges worked for him at his carpet-cleaning business in Utah County.
Roper, who doesn't wish to defend Hodges but wanted the whole story about the man told, talked with the Deseret News at length Tuesday afternoon, expressing bewilderment over Hodges' arrest in connection with the killing of Anna Lee Holmes, 31, a pregnant West Valley woman who was shot in the head Friday night during a robbery at a Kearns video store.
"He was a good worker. He did what he was told to do and was always honest with me," Roper said. "He seemed pretty nice. I never had any problems."
But Roper also recalled some aspects about Hodges' life that indicate he is a troubled man who has lived through many unhappy moments.
Half-Indian, Hodges, 44, lived a short time on a reservation when he was young and was often the subject of harassment by those who teased him for being a "half-breed."
After inheriting a large amount of money from a relative, he left the reservation and married at age 17, Roper said. "He said he blew the money quite quickly."
Several children later, Hodges and his wife divorced.
He then married a woman who converted him to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The couple, who lived in Salt Lake City and California, had a son but divorced when the boy was about 18 months old. Hodges' wife then moved to Provo, where her parents lived.
Following another failed and bitter marriage, Hodges came to Utah last December and was welcomed by his ex-wife in Provo, who invited him to stay with her while he got back on his feet.
His former wife, who had been friends with Roper's wife, asked the businessman to give Hodges a job. Roper hired Hodges in mid-January to work part time cleaning carpets in homes and businesses.
For the next month or so, Roper and Hodges, who goes by the nickname "Chuck," spent a lot of time together, traveling to and from jobs.
Roper said Hodges took pride in himself and worried about his appearance and his clothes, regretting that he had once tattooed his arms. "He didn't like the tattoos and always wore long-sleeved shirts to hide them."
Hodges ate healthy food raw vegetables for lunch rather than hamburgers and french fries and bragged about having a lot of natural stamina.
He also talked often about his ex-wife.
"He told me he loved his wife," said the employer. "I asked him why he didn't remarry her, and he said he couldn't give up drinking."
His second wife was also seeing another man, whom she married about six weeks ago. About three weeks ago, she and her new husband left town for Alabama.
Those events seemed a turning point for the worse in Hodges' life.
"He felt really bad when his wife remarried because he wouldn't get to see his son anymore. And he said, `I want to see her happy, too, but I'm concerned because I don't think their marriage is going to work.' "
His son, 5 years old now, was the pride of his life, Roper said.
"Just about every day, I would take Chuck to get his son at the day-care center. (His son) seemed to like Chuck. He would show his dad what he'd done in preschool that day and Chuck was always interested in what he was doing.
"He tried to teach him correct principles. One time, (the son) was saying unkind things to another boy and Chuck told him, `You shouldn't do that. You will hurt their feelings.' "
On another occasion, Hodges asked his ex-wife not to let his son watch cartoons because he felt they were too violent. "He said he didn't want his son to grow up to be like him," Roper said. Hodges himself admitted to being easily agitated and having a quick and tumultuous temper and didn't want his son to be like that, Roper said.
On March 18, Hodges got his last paycheck from Roper, said goodbye to his son and ex-wife and headed for a job in California. Something went wrong there, however, because a week later, Hodges returned to Utah County and asked Roper for a $38 loan so he could get his baggage out of the bus station in Salt Lake City.
"He was really drunk. His countenance was totally different. He acted really confused when I talked to him about working for me that night to earn the money."
Roper did not see Hodges again until Monday night when his picture was in the news as a suspect in the murder of Holmes and in several recent robberies.
"I was shocked," said Roper, who was also surprised to learn that Hodges is an ex-convict with an extensive criminal past. "It's just baffling to me."