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Memorial service honors slain retired firefighter: ‘Evil visited our brother’

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Hundreds of family, friends and firefighters gathered at the Heights Baptist Church in Chesterfield to honor the life of a retired Chesterfield firefighter.

Authorities said Lt. Charlton Hogwood  was murdered last month inside a vacant home he was renovating in Mesa, Arizona.

Lt. Hogwood was a 34-year veteran of the Chesterfield Fire Department, retiring in 2011.  Those who worked closely with Lt. Hogwood remembered him for his big personality, his kind heart and the hard work he put in day after day.

Lt. Charlton Hogwood

Lt. Charlton Hogwood

"What impressed me most about Charlton was he loved people, he loved his family, he loved his friends," said retired Chesterfield Fire Captain Charles Vernon.  "Wouldn't the world be a better place if people enjoyed helping each other as much as Charlton did."

"Charlton was a heck of a firefighter. He was mentor to so many. He was a friend," said Lt. Jason Elmore with the Chesterfield Fire Department.

According to multiple reports by Arizona media, police were called to a vacant home Hogwood was renovating and found he had been murdered.  Police told local media at the time they believed the homicide may have been drug related, but did not provide further details.

Eleanor Bucci

Eleanor Bucci

Eleanor Bucci, Hogwood's mother, told the crowd at the memorial that her son was not involved in that kind of activity.

"That was a misstatement by somebody, I have no idea who, but it's not true," Bucci said.

"The reality of it is, evil visited our brother, but evil did not prevail," said Rev. Pete Hypes, a Chesterfield Fire Chaplain.

Friends and colleagues said they want justice for whoever killed Lt. Hogwood, but the focus of Wednesday's service was mostly on good memories of a man loved by many.  Although his personality and storytelling ability would light up  the firehouse, those who knew Lt. Hogwood best said his heart was all about service.

Lt. Charlton Hogwood

Lt. Charlton Hogwood

"Charlton was a wonderful man. I loved that man," Rev. Hypes said.  "Rest in peace, boy."

Lt. Hogwood's family requests that anyone who wants to honor his service to the Chesterfield community donate to the Chesterfield Professional Firefighters Charitable Foundation.  Checks should be made payable to CPFFCF at P.O. Box 812, Chesterfield, Virginia 23832. Condolences may be registered at www.ealvinsmall.com.

WTVR CBS 6 left a message for the Mesa Police Department requesting an update on Lt. Hogwood's case, but as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, the station had not heard back.