DES MOINES, Iowa -- He may have spent most of his time in the cold and homeless, but for 10 years, the face of Charles Childs warmed the hearts of many he met through Joppa.
"Charles was always giving back. He would speak to groups and kids about homelessness and how important choices were," said Aimee Smith, Joppa's director of Operations and Client Services.
When the Des Moines organization, which helps the area's homeless communities, heard police found the 69 year old's body on January 10 after a fatal hit and run in the 1500 block of East Madison Street on January 8, the joy associated with Charles took a quick turn.
"It is just heartbreaking that someone could do that and leave the scene of a crime whether intentional or not," said Smith.
The Des Moines Police Department was not far behind. "This is one of those cases where the puzzle pieces came together real snug," said Sgt. Paul Parizek.
The suspect, Donterius Jamar Bomar, was charged Friday with attempted murder and is no stranger to crime. "For the past month he's been living at the Polk County Jail. He was released on the (January) 8th. He promptly went down to a business and attacked a man [and] stole his car. And that's the car we were able to connect to the hit and run scene," said Parizek.
As the investigation unfolds, it could quickly become Des Moines' first homicide of the year. Parizek said, "We are confident it was not an accident. It certainly seems somewhat intentional but we don't know why."
It was a dark chain of events for a man who some say spread nothing but light. "Disbelief, honestly," said Smith. She added, "We just couldn't believe something like this could happen to such a sweet man."
Even though Charles Childs was homeless, Joppa says he would work temporary labor jobs and give monetary donations to the organization. Joppa plans a memorial ceremony to honor his life. A date is not set at this time.