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Police find dead woman in evangelist's freezer as he preaches

 

MOBILE, Ala. — While Anthony Hopkins was leading a revival in a small church on the outskirts of Jackson, Ala., on July 28, his wife’s body was stuffed in a freezer at his house in Mobile, waiting to be discovered by police.

Acting on a tip given by Hopkins’ eldest daughter, police said they knew where to look and what they were likely to find when they searched the house.

 Clarke County Sheriff’s deputies found Hopkins at the church in Jackson a short time later, still preaching and ministering to people in the crowd, according to the pastor of the congregation hosting the revival.

 It could be the last sermon he preaches as a free man. Hopkins now sits in Mobile County Metro Jail, charged with murdering his wife, 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins. He could face life in prison if convicted. Hopkins as also charged with rape, sodomy, and incest.

It took a few days before the body was positively identified, a delay caused principally by the condition of the corpse, which Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett said looked like it had been in the freezer for “quite a while.”

On July 29, when Garrett held a news conference to announce Hopkins’ arrest, it was not even known how Arletha Hopkins had been killed or what condition her body was in.

The Mobile Press-Register reported Aug. 5 that a court document alleged Hopkins killed his wife in 2004 after she caught him sexually abusing one of their daughters.

Officers removed the small chest-style freezer from Hopkins’ house in its entirety, transporting it to the Mobile office of the Department of Forensic Sciences.

Nobody had heard from Arletha Hopkins in more than three years, Garrett said. She had never been reported missing.

She might never have been discovered if Hopkins’ 19-year-old daughter, the oldest of his eight children, hadn’t come forward and talked to police attached to the Child Advocacy Center.

Detectives found out about the body during the interview, Garrett said. They also found out that Hopkins had been sexually abusing the eldest child, Garrett said.

Details about Hopkins’ past remain sketchy. Police described him as an evangelist, an itinerant preacher who toured various local churches holding revivals. He hadn’t been in the Mobile area for long, according to Garrett. Hopkins kept a low profile.

Neighbors said they didn’t know him well, only as “Rev.” His children played in the yard often, they said, but they weren’t allowed to play with other kids on the street. None of them recalled seeing Hopkins with his wife.

 

Robert McClendon writes for The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.