CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- An investigation is underway after a retired Chesterfield firefighter was found dead in a vacant Arizona home Tuesday night, AZCentral reported.
Police in Mesa, Arizona said 63-year-old Charlton Hogwood's body was found with "signs of trauma."
News of Hogwood's sudden death came as a heartbreaking shock among former colleagues in the Chesterfield fire department.
"He always had that ability to take something bad, and make something good of it," Hogwood's longtime partner Wilbur Peyton said. "If he saw you had a problem, he was right there. If your car was broke down, he was right there. If you’re roof leaked, he was right there."
Peyton said he was in the dark on how Hogwood died or why anyone would kill him.
Mesa police say Hogwood was murdered — and that the crime may be drug related.
“People asking me what happened, I’m just as in the dark as they are," Peyton said.
Hogwood began his career as a firefighter in 1977, according to a Chesterfield Fire and EMS spokesperson. He retired in September 2011, after 34 years of service.
What Peyton is clear about is the character of his longtime friend, who he spent more than a decade with serving in the medic truck.
“He always had that ability to take something bad, and make something good of it. . . if he saw you had a problem, he was right there," Peyton said. "If your car was broke down, he was right there. If you’re roof leaked, he was right there.”
Hogwood is remembered as man who could fix anything, even working on the pit crew of NASCAR driver Lenny Pond before joining the fire department.
But Peyton says Hogwood’s brothers and sisters across fire houses across Chesterfield have heavy hearts at the loss of a man who’s personality was larger than life.
“I never met anybody who did not think the world of Charlton," Peyton said. "He’s one of those unforgettable people."
Hogwood's body was discovered by a family member Tuesday night when he failed to show up for a maintenance job.
The investigation into Hogwood's death remains on-going.