Recently released investigative files offer fresh insights into the shocking murder-suicide of Baton Rouge television personality Scott Rogers and Matthew Hodgkinsonat their St. Gabriel home on on Aug. 27, 2014.
This information was provided to The Advocate by the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office via the Freedom of Information Act. Photos from the crime scene are as seen above. Below is more investigative material.
Audio of Maria Edwards' 911 phone call
Mobile/tablet users: Click here to listen to the audio.
Handwritten notes by Scott Rogers, Mathew Hodginson found at crime scene
Police incident report for Scott Rogers-Mathew Hodgkinson murder-suicide
Mobile/tablet users: Click here to see the document.
Map showing crime location
The story centers on local television personality Scott Rogers and his relationship with 36-year-old Mathew Hodgkinson, a business partner and eventual son-in-law whom he brought over from England when Hodgkinson was still a teen.
Rogers had adopted one boy the two were raising together and was in the process of trying to adopt another. On Aug. 15, about two weeks before the murder-suicide, the state Department of Children and Family Services removed from the home both children, the oldest boy aged 10 and the youngest aged 2.
According to an incident report from the case files, the boys were taken by the state in connection with the federal investigation surrounding Rogers lying on naturalization and adoption records.
Police files contain no indication that the two children were ever sexually abused while living with Rogers. However, Rogers was accused of molesting children in England, and those allegations were backed up by a man who lived with Rogers and Hodgkinson in St. Gabriel and who has said Rogers sexually abused both him and Hodgkinson as teens.
Maria Edwards, a friend of Rogers, revealed she was staying with Rogers at the home the week of the murder-suicide for spiritual support to the family and to baby-sit Rogers, who had made several unsuccessful attempts to kill himself since the kids were taken. In the end, authorities say, Hodgkinson would shoot Rogers, then turn the gun on himself.
Edwards talked about all the tears shed that week by Rogers, Hodgkinson and Rogers’ daughter, Kimberly Ann Scott-Rogers, who was married to Hodgkinson.
“Everyone was crying,” Edwards said. “Pastor Scott had stopped eating. He only wanted to drink coffee and Diet Coke. He didn’t want to live without those kids.”
Edwards said an attorney had told them earlier in the day that Rogers probably would go to jail for lying on his naturalization and adoption records.
Across town, Rogers’ daughter was testifying before a grand jury about the allegations the federal government were pursuing against her father. Edwards said Rogers and Hodgkinson had gone upstairs to take nap after receiving the news.
“I think by then they were convinced by attorneys those children were never coming back to his home,” she said of Rogers and Hodgkinson’s mindset the night before the murder-suicide.
Investigators found a suicide note from Hodgkinson sitting atop the nightstand next to the bed where Rogers’ body was found. The note read: “They broke our happy, loving home. They do not get to take Scott too.”
In addition to the suicide note, the investigative case file contains text messages, cellphone records, interviews recorded on video, gambling receipts and numerous handwritten notes from Rogers and Hodgkinson — many addressed to Edwards — that show the fragile mental state of both men during their final days together.
In a letter addressed to the 10-year-old boy he helped raise with Rogers, Hodgkinson apologizes for state officials who removed the child from the home more than a week before the crime.
“Mean people said bad things about Daddy and then they took you away,” he wrote. “It is not your fault. You did nothing wrong. We love you so much.”
Hodgkinson goes on to write that Edwards would look out for him.
“We have money for toys and anything you need as you grow up,” the letter reads. “Please keep reading every day, and say your prayers.”
The letter is signed “Uncle Matty.”
Edwards said she no longer has any contact with the child and doesn’t know what has happened to him. She just hopes he’s in another loving home.
To his wife, Rogers’ daughter Kimberly, Hodgkinson wrote: “I am sorry it did not work out. My greatest wish for us was to repair our problems. … I am so sorry that you may now be in trouble just for saying ‘yes’ to me in front of the Christmas tree.”
Investigators quickly learned not everything was as it seemed when they visited Hodgkinson as he was clinging to life at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital on the evening of the murder-suicide.
An incident report in the case states that detectives ran into Rogers’ daughter at the hospital. She was there with someone she identified to police as her boyfriend.
She told officers she and Hodgkinson had a “very open relationship.”
Meanwhile, a man who also lived in the house with Rogers and Hodgkinson told investigators following the murder-suicide that both he and Hodgkinson were sexually abused by Rogers while they were students at Rogers’ performing arts school.
The victim, who had been in federal protective custody since Aug. 25, 2014, told police the three men and Rogers’ daughter had moved to America around 1996 after Rogers was acquitted by a jury in England for two counts of gross indecency with a child and three counts of indecent assault on a male.
Hodgkinson and the victim remained entangled with Rogers for more than 20 years. The third man described Rogers to investigators in an interrogation video from the case files as a master manipulator drowning in financial debt from compulsive gambling.
Rogers’ former pupil said he believes Hodgkinson ceased having sex with Rogers by 2004. He also said Rogers persuaded his daughter to enter a sham marriage with Hodgkinson to prevent him from being deported.
The man, who has previously recounted his story under the condition that his name not be used, declined several requests from The Advocate seeking comment about the recently opened case files.
The sordid aspects of Rogers’ troubled life were not known to Edwards and the parishioners of 13:34 Church of Christianity, where Edwards served as senior pastor alongside Rogers.
Edwards said the fledging church, which met in an adjacent space to the “Around Town” television studio in Cortana Mall, once had about 62 members, but that has dwindled down to five board members and half a dozen members. Since Rogers’ television studio closed, she said, what’s left of the church meets randomly for service wherever someone lets them.
“We’re looking for a location to call our own,” Edwards said.
Despite the scandalous details that have surfaced about Rogers since his death, the church’s board members have chosen to cling to their positive image of a man they leaned on for spiritual guidance.
“He never claimed to be a perfect man to us,” said Linda Tillman, a 13:34 Church member. “I felt like I was a better person because of the messages and teachings we got. I believe he was trying to live a good life here. … I had to reconcile the person I believed I knew to the person I see portrayed in the media.”
Edwards said the federal investigation was centered on the fact that Rogers checked “no” on his immigration form to a question about whether he had been arrested.
“He did that because he had only been arrested temporarily in England,” Edwards said. “He was acquitted on those charges. He didn’t think it was relevant.”
Rogers placed considerable trust in Edwards shortly before his death, giving her power of attorney of all his business affairs and personal matters.
“It was a power of attorney so that when he was in jail, he’d have someone to deal with his business affairs,” she said. “They wanted someone they trusted to help them.”
The man authorities say killed local TV host Scott Rogers died from the self-inflicted gunshot wound he sustained the day of Rogers’ homicide.
Mathew Hodgkinson, 36, who had been in a coma for more than a week, died about 2:40 p.m. Friday, according to Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi.
Authorities have said Hodgkinson fatally shot Rogers, 52, in the head on Aug. 27 before turning the gun on himself.
The shooting happened on the same day that Hodgkinson and Rogers’ daughter testified before a federal grand jury investigating claims that Rogers, a native of England, had filed false information on naturalization and adoption records.
Iberville Parish authorities said their investigation revealed Hodgkinson was in a sham marriage with Rogers’ daughter and that Hodgkinson and Rogers were lovers.
A man in federal protective custody told The Advocate that both he and Hodgkinson, who also went by the name Hodgkins, were sexually abused by Rogers as teenagers in England. They moved to America and remained entangled with Rogers, whom the victim described as a master manipulator, for more than 20 years.
Investigators said they concluded last week’s shooting was a case of murder-suicide based on a note Hodgkinson left on a night stand next to Rogers’ bed.
The note made reference to federal authorities acting to have two children — Rogers’ 10-year-old adopted son and a 2-year-old boy Rogers was in the process of adopting — removed from the Rogers home more than a week earlier.
The note read: “They broke our happy, loving home. They do not get to take Scott too.”
Alleged Scott Rogers victim: ‘Everything he built in this town was intended to convince himself that he was not a pedophile’
Slain Baton Rouge television personality Scott Rogers, 52, was a controlling and manipulative person who abused male children in England in the 1990s, an alleged victim said Friday.
“I met him when I was 12,” said the 35-year-old man, adding that he has been in federal protective custody in the case since Monday. “I started being molested when I was 13.”
Rogers enjoyed a good reputation in Baton Rouge and was popular because of his weekend “About Town” television show and public appearances on behalf of charities. However, he made British children available to pedophiles in both Asia and Europe before moving to the United States, said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“I think everything (Rogers) built in this town was intended to convince himself that he was not a pedophile,” the man said.
The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office released a copy of what they say was a suicide note written by Mathew Hodgkinson before he shot and killed Scott Rogers, then turned the gun on himself.
The note, apparently referring to federal authorities acting to have two children removed from the Rogers home last week, reads: “They broke our happy, loving home. They do not get to take Scott too.”
Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said investigators found the note on the nightstand beside the bed where they found Rogers’ body. Hodgkinson was found on the floor in the bedroom.
“That was the evidence that led us to believe it was a murder suicide-attempt,” Stassi said.
The release of the suicide note came as Stassi’s investigators were preparing search warrants to obtain a surveillance camera and laptop computer from Rogers’ home.
Less than two weeks before the crime, federal authorities 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, said Seth Dornier, the attorney Rogers hired Monday to represent him in the pending child custody case.