Preacher Accused of Killing, Freezing Wife

Crime, Law and JusticeJuvenile DelinquencyJustice SystemCrimeHomicideSocial IssuesMobile

MOBILE, Ala. -- People who heard traveling evangelist Anthony Hopkins deliver sermons in the rural Southern towns wherehe preached sometimes called him a psychic or even a prophet.

But prosecutors say the former soldier kept dark secrets whilespreading God's word.

They accuse him of killing his wife, storingher body in a freezer for years and raping and molesting a youngfemale relative.

Hopkins, 39, was arrested in 2008 while preaching a ruralrevival in Clarke County.

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A teenage relative allegedly pregnantwith his baby led police to the body of 36-year-old ArlethaHopkins, a mother of eight ranging in age from an infant to lateteens.

Investigators say Hopkins killed his wife in 2004 after shecaught him having sex with a female relative, then stuffed her bodyinto a freezer at the Mobile home he shared with her, six childrenand two stepchildren.

Nicholas L. Jackson Sr., pastor of a small church in Jacksonwhere Hopkins sometimes preached, told a local newspaper in 2008that many who heard him considered him a prophet with psychicabilities.

"When he told you something was going to happen, you couldpretty much count on it," he said.

He described Arletha Hopkins as quiet.

Authorities have said thechildren were home-schooled and largely kept out of sight ofneighbors and others in the community.

Hopkins told some churchassociates that his wife had died in 2004 giving birth to theiryoungest child.

He faces life in prison. He looked on attentively during juryselection, making frequent and lengthy eye contact with jurors,taking notes and conferring with his attorneys as about 60potential jurors were questioned during the selection process thatbegan Monday.

One said she watched Hopkins and several of his daughtersperform as part of a family musical group at a religious event afew years ago. Several others said they had attended churches withties to Hopkins.

Only four said they had not heard or read newsreports about the case.

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Rich said several of Hopkins'young female relatives are expected to testify during a weeklongtrial.

"It is a very sensitive, emotionally difficult type of case,"she said.

Hopkins was previously arrested in Saraland, near Mobile, in1998 for being absent without leave from the U.S. Army in FortBragg, N.C., from June 15, 1995, until April 6, 1998.

It is unclearhow military authorities resolved the case and attorneys declinedto answer questions about Hopkins' background Monday, sayingCircuit Judge John Lockett had ordered them not to discuss the casewith media.

Prosecutors have previously said Hopkins has no steadyemployment record and has ties to Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi,

Texas and North Carolina through his time in the military and hischurch work.

He lived in Mobile for about eight years before his arrest,working for about four years as a nurse's aid at a state mentalfacility and four years at a ship yard.

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