Family offers $5K reward for arrest of man accused of murdering wife in Conover

CONOVER, N.C. — A family in Catawba County is offering a $5,000 reward in hopes of capturing a man police say shot and killed his wife in her home a month ago.

Officers said on May 5, they went to a Conover home on Second Street Southwest after someone called 911. They found the body of 48-year-old Tinikia Hodges in the home.

Police said they are looking for Donald Ray Hodges in connection to her murder.

The day officers found Tinikia, co-workers were concerned that Hodges didn’t show up for work. Those concerns prompted her mother, Diane Bender, to check on her daughter.

Bender was the one who made the gruesome discovery -- she found Tinikia shot to death in her bedroom.

“I said to Tinikia, ‘I’ve been trying to call you. Why haven’t you been answering the phone?’” Bender said. “And she didn’t say nothing and it looked like her eyes were kind of open, because I was looking at them from the side. And then I go over and I feel her, and she was just cold, and I started hollering.”

Donald Hodges, her husband, is facing a murder charge and is considered “armed and dangerous,” according to police.

Hodges is described as being 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 275 pounds. He was last seen driving Tinikia’s car, which he’s accused of stealing after the murder -- a black 2010 Nissan Altima with chrome wheels and North Carolina license plate ALL-5945.

Investigators also said police in Charlotte interacted with Donald the morning of the murder, but it was before anyone knew that his wife had been shot and killed.

Family raises reward money for Donald Hodges’ capture

Tinikia’s family told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty they held a fish fry to collect the money for the $5,000 reward.

Tinikia’s parents said they believe Donald has called them since the murder. On Thursday, they told Faherty they got a call around 2 a.m. that they believed came from Hodges. They alerted police about the call.

“He called my name when he called. He called my name. And then I’m asking who he is and he called my name and my sisters name,” Bender said.

Since the murder, police and family members are sharing pictures of the murder suspect, who has been on the run. Tinikia’s parents plan to print more than 100 wanted posters and put them up at businesses in the area.

At their home Thursday, the couple made sure to deadlock the doors and have alarms on all the time. They are concerned that Hodges could still be in the area.

“He just needs to turn his self in because this is just stressful,” Bender said. “Trying to go to sleep at night, never knowing where he’s at and never knowing what he might do.”

Bender wants Hodges caught and brought to justice. She gave the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation home surveillance footage. In the video, Hodges could be seen leaving the home the night of the murder with his wife’s purse, according to search warrants.

“I would ask him why did he kill my baby because there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for him. That’s what I want to ask him -- ‘why did you kill my baby?’” she said.

Bender said the bond she had with her daughter was strong and they were very close.

“That was my heart,” Bender said. “That’s my heart. That’s my heart. That is my heart.”

The Conover Police Department said it’s working with the SBI, and on Wednesday, announced the U.S. Marshal’s Service is also looking for information about Hodges’ whereabouts.

Anyone who knows where Donald Hodges may be is asked to call the Conover Police Department at 828-464-4698, call 888-WANTED-2 (888-926-8332) or report it online.

Return to this story for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: Salisbury police investigating homicide overnight)