Preacher killed wife, stuffed body in freezer
Preacher killed wife, stuffed body in freezer, police say
(CNN) -- An evangelical preacher killed his wife several years ago and stuffed her body in a freezer after she caught him abusing their daughter, according to police and court documents.
Anthony Hopkins appeared in court Thursday to face murder, rape and incest charges.
Anthony Hopkins, 37, was arrested Monday night at the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Jackson, Alabama, just after he had delivered a sermon to a congregation that included his seven other children, officials said.
He faces charges including murder, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and incest.
Hopkins was denied bail Thursday when he appeared before Mobile County District Judge George Hardesty. The case is set for arraignment next week, Hardesty's clerk said.
The case began Monday, when the daughter, now 19, went to the Mobile Police Department's Child Advocacy Center and reported that she had been sexually abused by Hopkins since she was 11 years old, according to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant of the preacher's home in Mobile.
The affidavit related the daughter's story as follows:
Her mother, Arletha Hopkins, 36, caught her father abusing her in a bathroom in November 2004. Afterward, her parents argued, and her mother locked her father out of the house. The father came to the daughter's window and asked her to let him in, and she did so.
The next morning, her father asked her to help him hide her mother's body in the freezer in the laundry room of the home.
The girl said she moved out of the home about two weeks ago and was living with a neighbor. She told police that her mother's body was still in the freezer.
When authorities went to the home, no one was there, as Hopkins and the other children were at the church. A body was found in the freezer, the affidavit says.
Although police think the body is that of Arletha Hopkins, an identification is not expected until early next week, Mobile Police spokesman Officer Eric Gallichant said Thursday. Watch Nancy Grace's report »
Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett had said that an identification and autopsy results would take a few days: "obviously, the body was in a freezer."
He said he was not sure of the body's condition or whether it was intact, as upon seeing the body, authorities immediately sealed the chest-type freezer. The body had been covered in the unit, he said, and the entire appliance was taken to the state Department of Forensic Science.
At the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Hopkins was preaching at a revival, pastor Beverly Jackson told CNN affiliate WKRG. His message, she said, was about forgiveness and not passing judgment -- and at one point, he turned to his seven children and asked them to forgive him his past, present and future.
Police allowed Hopkins to finish his sermon before arresting him, Jackson said. She said she asked police why they were arresting him and was told, "he murdered his wife."
She said Hopkins had told her his wife died four years ago while giving birth to their youngest son.
Attempts to reach Jackson on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Authorities moved quickly on the daughter's accusations to make sure the children still in the household were OK, Garrett said. They were placed in the custody of child welfare authorities. The next-oldest child is a 17-year-old female, he said.
All eight were the children of Arletha Hopkins, and Anthony Hopkins fathered six of them, he said.
An investigation has not found any record of Arletha Hopkins' existence since 2004, according to the affidavit. Asked how long police think the body had been in the freezer, Garrett said, "I'm thinking that she's probably been there for a number of years."
He said Anthony Hopkins did not have a regular church but apparently preached in various areas around the South.
"Part of the mystery here is that, apparently, none of these children were in school" but were being home-schooled, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson said. "Home schooling, under this situation, removes almost any chances of us catching up with these kinds of things until there is a catastrophe."
Pastor Jerry Porter said he used to preach with Hopkins at his church, the Williams Street Holiness Church, and knew the family.
Arletha Hopkins "was very quiet," he told Mobile television station and CNN affiliate WPMI. "She was kind of secluded. She'd talk, but not much."
Anthony Hopkins, he said, made statements that led him to believe all was not well at home. "He always used to tell me ... 'You're blessed in the fact that you have a wife that supports you and what you're trying to do for God,' " Porter said.
He said Arletha Hopkins disappeared shortly after the couple's youngest child was born. As rumors swirled, Porter said, he confronted Hopkins and asked whether his wife was dead. Hopkins "wouldn't give me an answer," he said.
After that, Porter said, he banned him from the church but remained on good terms with him.
He said he visited the family a few years ago, and their home was clean and well-kept.
"It was the ideal family. I mean, the children were so respectful, just so easygoing," Porter said. "Didn't seem to be no stress at all. Never got that impression, never."
The children, he said, "loved their dad. They were very close to him."
Of Hopkins' preaching ability, Porter said, "he was a bulls-eye prophet. If he told you something, you could pretty much bank on it."