CANON CITY — Nine charges were filed Wednesday against a man accused of brutally beating and strangling an elderly victim before lighting the victim’s home on fire during a 2018 attack.


Matthew Allan Rodgers, 46, of Canon City, is charged with first-degree homicide, second-degree homicide, first-degree arson, two burglary charges, tampering with a deceased human body, tampering with physical evidence and two sentence-enhancing charges of crime of violence in connection with the May 22, 2018, death of Kenneth Orchard, 76.


Authorities arrested Rodgers last week after DNA evidence test results were received. An affidavit in the court file indicates Rodgers allegedly was linked to the crime through cellphone records, the GPS tracking system on his work truck, surveillance video and witness reports, but he was not arrested until DNA reports were complete.


The DNA test results indicated both Orchard’s and Rodgers’ DNA were found on a small gas can that had been located on the front porch of Orchard’s home at 1845 Pinion Ave. in Canon City. Authorities initially were called to the home on the report of a fire when Orchard’s body was discovered at the bottom of the stairs near the front door of the home.


Arson investigators ruled the fire as arson, concluding two separate and distinct fires were set. One of the fires was set in the master bedroom located on the second floor of the residence and the other just inside the front door of the residence where Orchard’s body was discovered near the bottom of the stairs.


Several items of jewelry and valuable coins were reported missing from the upstairs bedroom. An autopsy determined Orchard died as the result of strangulation and multiple blunt force injuries.


Rodgers, who will be represented by the Public Defender Kyle Nettleblad, will return to court Nov. 4 for a preliminary hearing and bail hearing. He remains held without bail at the Fremont County jail.


The homicide case was complicated by the arrest and conviction of a former Fremont County sheriff’s deputy who was accused of stealing from the homicide scene. Christopher Pape, then 30, was sentenced in October 2018 to two years in prison for misdemeanor theft and first-degree official misconduct as well as felony tampering with physical evidence.


Pape, who worked for the sheriff’s office for five years, was accused of taking nearly $6,000 worth of silver ingots, a turquoise bracelet and coins from the Orchard bedroom when he was on scene to assist with an investigation into Orchard’s death.


Chieftain and Pueblo West View reporter Tracy Harmon can be reached by email at tharmon@chieftain.com or at https://twitter.com/tracywumps. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at https://chieftain.com/subscribenow.