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Wednesday, July 30, 2008                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor arrested for incest and murder

MOBILE, Ala. - A Mobile man is facing charges of murder, rape, sodomy, and incest. Police believe Anthony Hopkins murdered his wife, and kept her in the freezer putting his family through a reign of terror and sexual abuse. It happened on Rylands Street.

Police say behind the yellow tape lived a family of eight children who've endured years of abuse. Police say their father, Anthony Hopkins; most likely killed his wife, and sexually abused at least one of his kids. But thanks to one brave child, it looks like the nightmare could be over.

Police say inside the brick walls was a family in pain. Living there was a father, a so-called evangelical preacher named Anthony Hopkins. Eight children were also under his roof. Monday night, one of those children paid a visit to the Child Advocacy Center. She arrived with a startling accusation.

"We had a victim present at our offices who complained about an on-going case of sexual abuse that had taken place over many years," said Steve Giardini, with the Child Advocacy Center.

So, investigators searched the home, and what they found was even more shocking... the frozen body of a woman. They believe she was Hopkins’ wife, Arletha. Police say they found the body in a freezer. It was wrapped in a sheet, and placed in a utility room behind the home.

"We believe it has been there for quite a while. The last known reporting or sighting of her has been three years," said Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett.

Police have spent the past twenty-four hours searching the home, hoping to get a glimpse into a dark world. Police say the family kept a low-profile by moving around a lot. The kids were also home-schooled.

"Home-schooling under this situation removed almost any chances of us catching up with these kinds of things," explained District Attorney John Tyson Junior.

Now, those kids are with the Department of Human Resources.

"They're in protective custody. Obviously, this situation has been an ordeal for them. But, they're certainly better off then they were, there's no question about that," said Giardini.

Police say it will be a few days before they can make a positive ID on the body. That's because it's been in the freezer so long. Hopefully, an autopsy will help reveal what happened to this victim.

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JACKSON, Ala. - Pastor Beverly Jackson Recorded the first night of the revival at Inspirational Tabernacle church in Jackson. The service included something she never expected, the arrest of a visiting minister.

"They run in, and they had their guns out. I didn't know what was going on. I though it was the alarm system had gone off,” she said.

Anthony Hopkins had been preaching for about an hour. Jackson had invited the Mobile minister to conduct a week-long revival.

He and seven of his 8 children were at the church along with about 50 other church members.

Hopkins seven children sat on the front pew of the church. When their father finished his sermon they got up. The seven year old went to the drums. His 17-year-old daughter played the keyboard and the guitar. Even the four year old had a guitar of his own. But, within minutes their father was under arrest and they were in protective custody.

"The children didn't say much. They were very withdrawn,” said the police chief.

Jackson Police Chief Charles Burge said his officers and Clark County Sheriff's deputies made the arrest. They received a call from Mobile PD telling them to take Hopkins in before the service ended.

"There was concern about the safety of the children he had with him in the church. That's why they wanted to get him as quickly as possible,” he said.

Pastor Jackson said Hopkins had told her his wife died in childbirth several years ago.

She said at one point in the pulpit Hopkins sermon appeared to be directed at his children and his oldest daughter who wasn't there.

"I remember something he said, like he knew what was going to happen. He said he had talked to his oldest daughter that morning, and he has told the children he want them to forgive him for his past, present, and future. And he said that he told his daughter that morning he love her, and she has to do whatever she has to do,” she said.

Pastor Jackson said the revival at her church will go on the rest of the week without Hopkins and his family. The Jackson police chief said members of the Department of Human Resources picked up the children at police headquarters in Jackson around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday.

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