WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

Cop Accused of Beating Three Wives and Raping a Blind Woman Didn’t Lose His Job

Across three decades, multiple women have claimed Charles Hoeffer assaulted them, physically and sexually—including two who say his department should’ve stopped him.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Ray Smith awoke to a scuffle from across his sleepy Delray Beach, Florida, street.

It was 1 a.m. on Jan. 18, 1991, and the front door of his neighbor’s home was ajar. Ray and his wife Evelyn watched as Charlene Hoeffer’s husband was “manhandling” her, Ray told cops according to a police report. The man refused to leave and “continued to search through her effects,” according to a Delray Beach Police Department Internal Affairs investigation report. Charlene was trying unsuccessfully to make her estranged husband leave with “clothing that he had given to her,” the report said.

The Smiths told police the Hoeffers often put their “marriage problems” on full display, but this time was different for Ray—he refused to silently watch and stomped outside to threaten to call the authorities.

“He is the police!” Charlene screamed.

“You’re a cop,” Ray shouted. “You should know better than to behave that way. What’s your name?”

Charles Hoeffer was his name and he was a Delray Beach policeman with a history of documented domestic abuse claims. Beginning in 1983, Hoeffer has been accused of abusing his three wives, including the first who killed herself, propositioning and groping women (fondling one woman while she was detained), and sexually assaulting two women, including one who is blind—twice.

Through it all, Hoeffer remained a police officer, jumping from one department to the next until he recently retired. Hoeffer has never been arrested for these incidents or been subject to a finding of official wrongdoing.

***

“He’s been a cop for 30 years. Three agencies. It’s a brotherhood. You can’t take people down like that,” one Hoeffer family member, who requested anonymity out of fear of retribution, told The Daily Beast. “You are fighting with fire.”

Another relative refused to talk about Hoeffer, convinced that the ex-cop hired me in order to see how much information I could glean.

“Something is going on with him again and I think you’re fishing to see which family member is out to get him,” the relative said.

Out of the three police departments who hired Hoeffer, two have tried and failed to terminate him.

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In February, two women—including the blind rape accuser—filed separate civil lawsuits against Hoeffer and the Town of Palm Beach Shores.

Their federal cases are still pending. In an two separate answers to the separate complaints filed in federal court in Florida’s Southern District on this week, Hoeffer’s attorneys denied the allegations made by both women who are referred to by their initials as: J.V.M. and K.S. They said the claims “are frivolous and wholly without merit” and that Hoeffer “at all times he acted in good faith, relying upon existing statutes and policies and procedures as authority for his actions and otherwise.” Hoeffer’s attorneys added in the documents that the cop never committed “any act in derogation” of K.S.’s or J.V.M.’s “civil rights.”

Those lawsuits arose after Hoeffer became the focus of a series of stories published over two years ago by The Palm Beach Post’s Lawrence Mower.

Just weeks after the Jan. 18, 1991, “manhandling” incident with his wife where Ray Smith intervened, Hoeffer claims he inadvertently broke his wife’s nose by throwing her suede boot at her face, according to the internal investigation report that found Hoeffer lied and acted in a manner unbecoming of an officer. The report said Hoeffer’s wife refused to press charges.

So routine were the domestic abuse house calls that a watch commander in a Delray Beach Police Internal Affairs Investigation report fumed “he was tired of sending two to three police units to Mrs. Hoeffer’s residence to deal with situations involving Officer Hoeffer.”

Neither Hoeffer nor his private attorneys or the local Police Benevolent Association attorney responded to repeated requests for comment by The Daily Beast. The FBI, which closed a probe on the policeman last year, according to a law enforcement source, also declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Hoeffer is profiting handsomely since becoming a civilian. He settled a lawsuit with the Town of Palm Beach Shores last November for a $135,000 payday (he originally asked for $575,000) for wrongful termination. Hoeffer let his police certification lapse; in Florida cops are required to complete 40 hours of such training every four years.

The windfall came as Hoeffer was on two-years paid leave while he was criminally investigated by Riviera Beach Police for the alleged 2014 rape of the blind woman, though state prosecutors concluded in a closeout memorandum last year there was “no reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution” and closed their case.

Hoeffer was deposed in 2016 as part of a civil lawsuit brought against the Town of Palm Beach Shores by a dispatcher who says she was forced out of her job after Hoeffer mistreated her and allegedly stared at her body, saying, “When are you gonna let me get some of that?”

In his deposition testimony, Hoeffer played defense. He downplayed the boot beating as “getting into a little personal thing with my second wife” and said superiors were “gripping at straws” to call him a rapist after he claims all he did was accompany and sign-in a drunken woman into a hotel room, according to a Riviera Beach Police Department Internal Affairs investigation report reviewed by The Daily Beast.

When pressed about his conduct as an officer, Hoeffer testified to doing everything by the book.

“I treated everyone with the utmost respect and I followed policy and procedure. It’s the only way I operate.”

***

When he applied to the Delray Beach Police Department, a lieutenant flagged Hoeffer’s one of two reported domestic violence incidents from 1983 involving his still-living first wife Charlene. But he determined the incidents didn’t squander Hoeffer from getting hired.

As part of a background review into Hoeffer, a memo dated on Feb. 9, revealed how Charlene Hoeffer opened up during a telephone call with Lt. Joseph Schroeder about the second dustup (from Oct. 19, 1983) with her husband.

“[Charlene]… advised that this was the first and last time such an incident occurred,” the memo said. This came despite a domestic incident documented by police three months earlier in August, as the police incident report reviewed by The Daily Beast, shows.

Charlene blamed her “pre-menstrual syndrome” as playing a major part in what occurred.

“She stated that her mood swings were tremendous and that she was partly at fault for the incident.”

Hoeffer landed in law enforcement after a range of stints including towing cars, working construction to pumping gas and cutting hedges for the city of Delray Beach. Hoeffer (who also has an ex-cop brother David who served Delray from 1990-1992) presented himself as a local guy who pledged to serve his community. He’d only smoked pot “once” as a teenager and boasted having “a good knowledge of firearms and how to use them” and also “gained excellent knowledge of the city and its surroundings,” according to a questionnaire from his personnel file.

Hoeffer boasted on his application that he works “well with people, works well under pressure… I get along with people no matter age, race, sex.”

Shortly after becoming a cop at the Delray Police Department in 1987, Hoeffer became a widower.

He and Charlene, 25, were watching television together and, in his version, Hoeffer turned in but couldn’t sleep.

His “back problem” persisted and at around 1 a.m. on Sept. 14, 1988, Hoeffer left his wife “in bed” to retreat to the living room where he “eventually fell asleep,” on the couch, according to police and autopsy investigation reports.

A source close to Charles’ two children Matthew and Melody said the kids were home that morning and one saw Charles “in the yard in only his underwear and he was screaming that his wife had shot herself.”

The medical examiner ruled Charlene’s death a suicide. Hoeffer walked in on her holding his .38 caliber snub nose special gun with “her index finger still on the trigger” and a pool of “blood in the tub,” according to the police report.

The source couldn’t control the tears while recalling bearing witness to Charles’ alleged attacks against his second wife.

The source called Charles “a monster” and said, “I try not think about this stuff at all.”

“I havent slept. I’ve been crying at work. I’m just a mess.”

***

Charles remarried very soon after Charlene was laid to rest.

“They were dating and then they went on a trip for Christmas and they sent everyone a postcard like, ‘We’re married,’” the source said.

As the couple’s relationship suffered, Hoeffer allegedly harassed the woman with countless phone calls. His wife, who worked as an administrative assistant at the Gleneagles Country Club, was forced to answer an excessive amount of calls every shift from Hoeffer, according to the Delray Beach police internal affairs report. Hoeffer’s superiors “ordered” him “not to call his wife at work any further,” the report said. The cop allegedly told them he “would not phone his wife at work again,” the report said, yet calls continued. “Hoeffer employed a new tactic which consisted of him providing a fictitious name…”

A coworker of Hoeffer’s wife discerned the voice was her husband. His wife was ultimately fired, the report states, after receiving as many as 50 calls on her last day on the job. After she was fired, the internal affairs report said, Hoeffer physically attacked her.

Around 3 a.m. on Feb. 2, 1991, Hoeffer appeared out of nowhere on his wife “before she could unlock the door” to her home, according to the internal affairs report. The couple were separated but the cop felt he was entitled to know “where she had been and who she had been with,” the report stated.

Hoeffer kept punishing her with questions and she refused to explain herself.

That’s when he allegedly “attempted to get close enough to smell her clothing,” the report stated, and “she tried to keep him at an arm’s distance.” Hoeffer, according to the report, “ripped a pin from her blouse and took it.” Hoeffer then advanced toward her and “grabbed hold of one of her legs, raised it and forcibly removed a boot from it,” before sneering, “Look at you with those boots on,” the report stated.

With the boot in his grip, the report said Hoeffer swung it “striking her one time in the face.”

She was taken to Bethesda Memorial Hospital where she was treated for “facial abrasions and a fractured nose.” The internal affairs investigator had to meet with the woman at on off-site location because “she was terrified of Officer Hoeffer, and as a result, was staying away from her apartment…”

Hoeffer wasn’t prosecuted or fired. However, when an internal investigation was opened and that detective questioned Hoeffer’s wife, two days after the alleged beating, she received a phone call.

It was her husband.

“I witnessed Mrs. Hoeffer pick up the receiver, and then immediately hang up, informing me that the party who had called her was Officer Hoeffer.”

A Delray Police Department lieutenant pressed Hoeffer two days after fracturing his wife’s nose and face. He first “denied being there… or assaulting his wife.”

Then when Hoeffer was informed Ray and Evelyn Smith placed him there at the time of both assaults, his story unraveled. He rang the lieutenant three hours after being interviewed and explained that he did so because “he was afraid of losing his job.”

Then Hoeffer admitted he was lurking “on the street just south of [his wife’s home] and waited for her to arrive.” Hoeffer told the lieutenant he merely tossed his wife’s boot back to her and struck her by accident. Hoeffer said there was “some tussling for this phone” he’d bought for his wife in the first alleged incident.

As for the harassing calls? Hoeffer denied he called so many times, acknowledging only that he called when his wife had asked him to do so.

But the internal investigation traced many of the calls to his wife’s country club workplace to being placed from the Delray Police Department; including two calls made to the woman precisely while she was being interviewed; and another when Hoeffer was on break while being interviewed.

“In fact, one call is recorded as having been placed during the time Officer Hoeffer was afforded a break during his interview with me,” the internal affairs report states.

Officer Hoeffer tendered his resignation days later, according to the internal affairs report and his personnel file.

***

Only eight months after he allegedly fractured his second wife’s nose, Hoeffer left the Delray Beach Police Department and got another job with the Riviera Beach Police Department.

On his application, reviewed by The Daily Beast, Hoeffer did not answer two key questions: “Have you been the subject of a police investigation?” and, “Were you ever discharged, terminated, fired, or forced to resign, because of misconduct or unsatisfactory service?”

All Hoeffer subsequently wrote was, “I resigned from the DBPD in Feb ’91 not because of any work related problems but as a result of personal problems in my marriage. Further explanation of this can be given if needed.”

New badge, new uniform—but the same alleged sicko.

Back in August 1994, according to a police Final Disposition Record, Hoeffer was required to enter treatment because a woman accused Hoeffer of “improperly touching her” after she’d been detained.

The same month, on Aug. 13, 1994, Hoeffer started his midnight shift and before it ended, he was accused of rape.

Hoeffer caught a woman stumbling out of Portofino’s Restaurant.

According to an Riviera Beach Internal Affairs investigation report, the woman, who admitted she was an alcoholic and downed “about six glasses of wine,” felt shunned by an ex-boyfriend musician. The woman told investigators that Hoeffer gave the woman two choices: accompany him to the Holiday Inn (where she claimed to work) “or to jail,” an internal affairs investigation report, led by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, states.

She chose the hotel.

In two interviews with the sheriff’s office, the woman said Hoeffer checked her into a room. She was lying on the bed “kinda passed out” and her jumpsuit was undone, with her underwear “below her knees.”

Hoeffer allegedly got on top of her declaring: “I know you want it, here it is.”

With that he allegedly “pulled out his penis out of his pants” and “tried to put his penis in her mouth,” the internal affairs investigation report details. The woman fought to “keep him off her” by pushing her knee into his gut. Hoeffer then allegedly “put his penis in her vagina but did not ejaculate.” The woman told a detective “she knows his penis was inside her, she felt him.” Then Hoeffer “got a radio call,” she said, and told her “he would be back for her and not to call the authorities.”

Hoeffer said he signed the woman’s credit card and escorted her to Room 309, but he was a gentleman.

She “sat down at the end of the bed” and “he did not take his penis out and tell [her] she owed him,” the report states.

“I was trying to get rid of this call,” he said, according to the report.

***

Riviera Police brass tried unsuccessfully to fire Hoeffer almost a year after the alleged rape in the hotel.

During the lull, Hoeffer was blamed for battering and harassing “his third ex-wife while on administrative leave,” according to a memorandum in his federal discrimination lawsuit he filed against the department in 1998.

“It was determined that the female was not credible,” according to a final disposition of the arbitration between the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, which represented Hoeffer.

Palm Beach Shores Police Department Police Chief Duncan Young refused to comment for this story. In an email to The Daily Beast he wrote: “The Town does not publicly comment on former employees, nor can I publicly comment on matters still in litigation.”

But an insider confirmed Hoeffer was angling to move to another department. He attended the funeral for the wife of Palm Beach Shores’ former chief Roger Willie. Hoeffer was essentially hired on the spot, an insider confirmed.

“That background investigation wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.”

***

On July 28, 2008, a mere 10 days after retiring from Riviera Beach Police Department, the Town of Palm Beach Shores hired Hoeffer, according to personnel reports from both departments.

Palm Beach Shores is a small town resting on the Singer Island tip, that stretches a slim 10 blocks and boasts only 1,500 residents. The police force totals 20 people, including 11 full-time police officers, four part-timers, and four full-time dispatchers.

Trouble followed Hoeffer.

In 2010, according to a state attorney’s report, Hoeffer pulled up his cruiser to “block [a woman’s] path” and allegedly said, “I have two pensions and I can take care of you. You’re hot.” Another local woman, the report adds, claimed Hoeffer spotted her underwear in some bags he helped her move and allegedly announced: “I really like those things. I would love to see you in them. I bet you look really good in those thongs. Maybe we can make that happen.”

Both women declined to cooperate with authorities, the state attorney’s report said.

Then in August 2013, J.V.M. told Hoeffer about a domestic violence incident involving her alcoholic husband who moved away. Hoeffer gave her brochures to contact advocates of battered women.

“Charlie was a lifeline because I was so scared,” the woman, who is suing Hoeffer and The Town of Palm Beach Shores in federal court, said.

In an internal investigation report’s interview, J.V.M. explained how Hoeffer ran a history of domestic abuse reports on her husband and found he abused his ex-wife. The two agreed to meet for coffee that same month so he could hand-deliver the printouts, she said.

They met in separate cars 30 minutes away in Lake Worth, close to where Hoeffer lived. He had changed out of his uniform, the internal investigation report states.

The woman exited her car to enter Hoeffer’s white pickup truck. While driving off, she told investigator Hoeffer “acted very different” and “kept looking out the window and rubbing his leg.” She mentioned her ex-husband, but Hoeffer allegedly sneered, “I don’t want to fucking talk about him anymore.”

The cop reversed his pickup into an abandoned parking lot.

“He turned off the ignition and lunged at me,” she said. “He kind of pushed me up against the window of the passenger side and stuck his tongue down my throat,” she added, before allegedly saying how horny he was while squeezing her breasts.

Hoeffer, she said, “pulled my legs from underneath me” and “was on top of me” before he “grabbed my throat and kept kissing me.”

Pinned to the seat, Hoeffer allegedly ripped her necklace as he tried lifting up her dress, and demanded to see her underwear before moaning: “I thought I was going to explode in my pants.”

She fended him off.

“I kicked him in his groin and I think I started to cry and it jolted him and brought him back to reality,” she said.

Hoeffer told her, “I’m not going to hurt you,” she said, and drove her back to her car.

Two weeks later, J.V.M.’s ex-husband left a gun in her bedroom. When she went to report it Officer Hoeffer was the only cop on duty.

After filling out the paperwork Hoeffer allegedly told her: “It happens in divorce.”

Days later, Hoeffer’s cruiser was parked in her driveway and he allegedly barged into her home.

“He again lunged toward me and grabbed my breasts. Really hard,” J.V.M. said.

She responded again.

“I grabbed his lower anatomy and told him, ‘How would you like if I did that to you?’”

She claims it turned Hoeffer on.

“He said, ‘Well, I’d like it a lot.’”

When quizzed about the accusations by internal affairs, Hoeffer denied everything.

First, he said there was no coffee date, according to the internal affairs report. “Never happened. I never met with her,” he told Palm Beach Shores Sgt. Dan Leffew in an interview on Oct. 2, 2014. Hoeffer also denied pursuing her. “I’ve never tried to kiss her,” he said, adding, “I don’t think I’ve ever been to her house with just her alone.”

Asked why J.V.M. would make up these allegations and Hoeffer said, “I mean—you know, I’m a police officer. I’m, uh—no psychologist. I—I—I really don’t know why.”

***

A month later in March 2014 Hoeffer allegedly raped K.S., a 25-year-old legally blind woman.

The Daily Beast was informed that her attorney Michael Kugler (who is also representing J.V.M.) hasn’t been able to discuss the allegations much because of trauma.

“She and I have only spoken on really one occasion in detail about what happened,” Kugler said. “The reason why is when she relives the stress of that event she goes into hospitalizing seizures.”

Like so many in town, K.S. knew Hoeffer and recalled him trying to find her seeing eye dog’s lost jacket. She reported it missing during a visit to the Palm Beach Shores Police Department and “asked the clerk to call her if the jacket was recovered,” according to her civil lawsuit.

The jacket turned up, but when K.S.’s phone rang it wasn’t the clerk, but “Charlie” calling, the lawsuit states, saying he “wanted to come to her residence to bring the jacket.” On March 5, 2014, K.S. was stepping out of the shower when her phone rang again, the complaint states.

“Why are you taking such a long shower?” Hoeffer supposedly asked. “What, do you masturbate in there?”

Hoeffer then apologized, according to a police incident report.

Within hours Hoeffer stepped out of his marked cruiser “in full Palm Beach Shores Police Department uniform,” the lawsuit claims, was when he entered K.S.’s gated community and requested her “come to her door.”

Wearing only a robe, the blind woman heard Hoeffer’s radio aloud, “that he was 10-17”—cop speak for conducting an investigation.

K.S., in the incident report, said Hoeffer “kissed her without her consent and she pushed him away.”

She took a seat on a chair and “felt [Hoeffer] pushing against her with his gun belt,” the police incident report documenting her version of what happened. He then allegedly “pulled out his penis and demanded [K.S.] ‘Suck my cock,’” the civil lawsuit says, before placing her hands on his penis. The incident report states Hoeffer then “pried her legs apart with his knees” and “she felt Hoeffer penetrate her vagina for approximately five minutes” even though she cried ‘Stop! No! No!…’ and tried to push him away.”

The cop allegedly pushed for her to give in.

“You have perfect tits,” he allegedly told her, according to the civil complaint. And also, “Come on, you know you want it.”

The victim, the police report notes, said the cop didn’t wear a condom, telling her, according to the civil complaint, “Well, I can’t get you pregnant. I had a vasectomy.”

When he was done, Hoeffer allegedly marched over to the sink to “clean himself off and left K.S.’s home without a word.”

A month later, Hoeffer called the woman while shopping at Walmart, according to the police incident report of the accuser’s version of the incident, and he came back to allegedly rape her again. On that day, K.S. was quarreling with her fiancé. Hearing the woman in tears, he attempted to console her.

“I wish I was there,” Hoeffer allegedly told her, according to the civil complaint. “I could give you a hug.”

The blind woman, helpless in her own home by the policeman she claims raped her a month earlier, was back in the same spot when he returned in an unmarked car and committed “another sexual battery act against K.S. by vaginally penetrating her,” the civil lawsuit states.

She didn’t initially report either rape, the police incident report notes, because she said she “she was embarrassed and did not know how to tell her boyfriend.”

But K.S. submitted the robe she wore as evidence. It was analyzed by a local lab and according to the state attorney’s report, technicians found “a DNA mixture of two people” that could have resulted from contact with her fiancé, and not necessarily Hoeffer. The case also remained inactive due to “lack of witness cooperation,” the report said.

The state attorney completed its review on May 6, 2016, and found that while Hoeffer “offended against a number of women in a sexually inappropriate manner in the past, the State is unable to prove that such conduct is sufficiently similar to what occurred with [J.S.] in order to be admissible in a criminal trial.”

“There is no reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution,” it concluded.

***

Since Jan. 8, 2016, Officer Hoeffer had been on paid leave during an investigation led by the Riviera Police Department into the sexual battery claims against K.S.

By then, Hoeffer was reassigned from patrol to serve as the communications supervisor at the Palm Beach Shores Police Department.

Two female dispatchers complained about Hoeffer’s misconduct.

One full-time dispatcher had been working at the department since Feb. 3, 2011.

When Hoeffer became her boss she claims he turned the office into a “sexually hostile work environment.” She laid out her case in a complaint she filed against the Town of Palm Beach Shores stating Officer Hoeffer would “stare at her body and ask, ‘When are you gonna let me get some of that?’”

Hoeffer, according to the complaint, frequently groped his genitals, commenting “about females and female body in a sexually graphic and demeaning manner,” and when her husband was away, he allegedly asked “to come to her home to have sex while her husband was out of town.”

The accuser said she believes she was targeted for complaining Hoeffer was a sicko to Palm Beach Shores Town Manager Cindy Lindskoog on Jan. 5, 2013.

She pointed to Hoeffer allegedly menacing her by violently “kicking the filing cabinet behind [her] and banging on items in the patrol/squad room next to her desk,” her lawsuit states.

Hoeffer denied her claims in a deposition for the lawsuit.

“It’s nothing but fraud and lying,” he said. “She talks about after I found out [about the lawsuit] I went and started banging on the file cabinet…”

She won her lawsuit last month, her lawyer Art Schofield said.