ST. GABRIEL — A Baton Rouge television personality whose life unraveled in what authorities believe was a murder and attempted suicide had built a family life that was entirely a ruse, a state prosecutor said Thursday.
Scott Rogers, 52 and the host of the Around Town show, was the target of a federal investigation and in the midst of a child custody battle when the shooting occurred Wednesday.
His business partner and son-in-law, Mathew Hodgkinson, who also went by the last name Hodgkins, remains in critical condition from a brain injury he sustained in his suicide attempt and is on life support, according to Iberville Sheriff Brett Stassi.
Rogers’ attorney, Seth Dornier, told WAFB-TV Wednesday night that the federal government was looking into several issues related to Rogers, mainly focusing on whether Rogers lied on government documents.
Dornier told The Advocate on Wednesday that Rogers’ daughter, Kimberly Ann Scott-Rogers, 29, was testifying before a grand jury when the shooting happened.
Although she and Hodgkinson were legally married, authorities say they believe the marriage was a sham and that she was not actually living at Rogers’ address at 1045 Daisy Avenue with Rogers and Hodgkinson.
Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton said Thursday morning the family’s entire life was a ruse — including Hodgkins’ marriage to Rogers’ daughter.
“The co-conspirators involved in the federal investigation is more than just the two people involved in yesterday’s incident,” he said. “There are other folks who need to be seriously questioned about who set all this up.”
Stassi added Rogers’ autopsy report revealed he died from a single gunshot wound to the head. He said authorities are waiting to see what happens with Hodgkins
“If he wakes up and is released from the hospital, we’re going to arrest him and charge him with some type of murder, ” Stassi said.
Stassi said Rogers and other family members had been living under “heavy stress” for the past few weeks leading up to the shooting.
Dornier said Rogers hired him Monday to represent him in a child custody case after state authorities on Friday took custody of two children living in Rogers’ home. One was Rogers’ 10-year-old adopted son and the other was a 2-year-old boy Rogers was in the process of adopting, Dornier said.
Dornier said Rogers was also facing a possible indictment in a federal criminal investigation. He told WAFB-TV that Rogers was also concerned about information becoming public about a child molestation case in his native England.
Rogers, who operated a dance school in England, was acquitted of the charges made by a 13-year-old boy, Dornier said, and later moved with his daughter to the U.S. where both became citizens.
Although Stassi did not specifically say who shot whom, his account of the incident being investigated as a murder and attempted suicide indicates deputies suspect Hodgkins shot Rogers, then turned the gun on himself.
Stassi said Hodgkinson was living with Rogers and described them as friends. He later told reporters that Hodgkinson was Rogers’ son-in-law.
Authorities said Wednesday’s incident wasn’t the first time police had been to Rogers’ home at 1000 block of Daisy Avenue.
John Billodeaux, who lived next door to Rogers, said he saw police and first responders at the house about a week ago but didn’t know what it was all about.
“That was startling but we didn’t go over to see what was going on,” Billodeaux said. “I just thought someone might have been sick.”
Billodeaux, who has lived in the neighborhood for six years, said Rogers mostly kept to himself. Billodeaux described Hodgkinson as a “nice man” who occasionally visited his home.
Kellee Hennessy Dickerson, Rogers’ former co-host on Around Town, said she was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Rogers’ death.
“He was like the little jokester that would keep people motivated and pumped up,” said Dickerson, who now owns The Glass Slipper in Denham Springs and serves as a member of the Livingston Parish School Board.
“He had a big heart,” she said. “He cared about people so much and he enjoyed making people laugh and he enjoyed being part of this community.”
The two emceed many events together around the city.
Dickerson, who had been Rogers’ friend for about 15 years, last co-hosted the Around Town show with Rogers about two years ago. The show highlighted people in the community ranging from local school leaders to local business executives and outreach program leaders, she said.
The show was filmed at a studio in Cortana Mall. Other shows aired from the studio, too, Dickerson said.
Rogers and Hodgkinson were partners in a television production company called 1stCo, also operating from the mall, that did marketing and public relations work.
Sharon Bethea, a spokeswoman for Cox Communications in Baton Rouge, said the Around Town show aired on WAFB at 5 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and also aired at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays on WBXH.
Lee Meredith, vice president and general manager at WAFB, said Rogers self-produced his show.
WAFB partnered with Rogers to air his show, Meredith said. The partnership began about three years ago, although Rogers had worked some with the station before the show hit the airwaves, Meredith said.
WAFB reported that Hodgkins left a voicemail message at the station Tuesday to say that the Around Town show was being canceled.
“Scott is facing a family catastrophe,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going on or why at this point but I have made the decision to cancel future shows. I hope you can keep us in your prayers as we move forward.”
Advocate staff writer Pam Bordelon contributed to this report. Follow Terry Jones on Twitter @tjonesreporter.