Bond denied for man who stored wife's body in freezer


This undated photo provided by Mobile County (Ala.) Sheriff's office shows Anthony Hopkins. Police believe a body found in a small-time evangelist's home freezer is his wife and a mother of eight, and arrested him on a murder charge as he preached at a south Alabama church. Anthony Hopkins, 37, was being held in the Mobile County jail Wednesday awaiting a bond hearing and appointment of an attorney.

Mobile County Sheriffs Office/The Associated Press
Published: Friday, August 1, 2008 at 8:35 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 1, 2008 at 8:35 a.m.

MOBILE, Ala. A judge denied bond Thursday for a part-time evangelist charged with murder in the death of his wife, a mother of eight whose body was kept in a freezer for at least three years.

Arletha Hopkins, 36, apparently was killed in 2004, but the cause of death remains under investigation, Assistant District Attorney Ashley Rich said.

Anthony Hopkins, 37, was returned to jail after a brief court appearance. Hopkins did not speak during the hearing and his trial attorney will be appointed later.

The father of the six youngest children, Hopkins also is charged with rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and incest in a related case involving a female relative who is pregnant with his baby, authorities said. Her disclosure of that sexual abuse led police to find the body in the freezer Monday.

Investigators believe the wife was killed when she discovered the sexual abuse, according to a court document used to obtain a search warrant.

Hopkins had told his wife's relatives in Wadley, Ga., that she was unavailable or didn't want any contact with them, Rich said. The wife's disappearance was never reported to police.

Rich said the relatives were expected to take custody of the children, ages 3 to 19. They are now in state custody.

The wife's stepmother, Mary Best of Wadley, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday that she knew something was wrong when she was unable to reach Arletha Hopkins on her cell phone. She said the couple had separate cell phones and "her phone got cut off."

She finally reached Anthony Hopkins, who told her they had moved to California. "I did feel like something happened to her," she said.

The wife's aunt, Shelly Best, said she last saw the entire Hopkins family in Wadley in 2003 when they came to sing at a church. The family performed at churches as an ensemble and Hopkins preached.

Hopkins was arrested Monday night while preaching at a revival at a rural church in Jackson, which is about 60 miles northeast of Mobile. Authorities said Hopkins preached while holding different jobs.

The children were home-schooled at a north Mobile neighborhood, where neighbors knew Hopkins as "Rev."

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