Woman who ‘tortured her children’ gets 5 life sentences

Misty Hopkins (KXAN Photo)
Misty Hopkins (KXAN Photo)

BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Five siblings in the Hill Country were isolated, tortured and sexually abused by their parents for most of their childhood.

This week a Burnet County jury found the mother guilty, and District Judge Evan Stubbs sentenced Misty Hopkins, 49, to five stacked life sentences. Her husband, who was a pastor of a church in Kingsland that no longer exists, would likely be going to prison, but he died in 2012 before one of their children decided to break their silence and tell police about the abuse.

It was their middle child, Holly Hopkins, who originally came forward and testified this week in court along with her brothers and sisters. The now 25-year-old said she noticed a big change when her family moved from Georgia to Burnet in 1999 when she was seven years old.

“It was like my mom had died and this person replaced her,” Holly told KXAN.

The 25-year-old says she endured the abusive treatment on a daily basis for more than 14 years — until the age of 21. Holly says she and her siblings were abused in every way possible, locked in the closet, went without food and were even injected with drugs by their parents who were doing a variety of drugs themselves.

“I knew that what they were doing was wrong, but of course the people that I trusted most were my parents,” said Holly. “It was an odd situation.”

It got progressively worse over time and the children were kept isolated from the outside world. Holly wanted to leave when she turned 18, but did not want to leave her brothers and sisters behind.

She was told by her parents if she left or told someone about the abuse, they would sexually abuse her sisters as well. The children were also taught to fear police and Child Protective Services.

“They would tell us if we told anybody we would go to foster homes and never get to see each other again,” said Holly.

Eventually, a friend opened up to Holly about being abused so she opened up, too. It ultimately led her to police with the goal of trying to stop her mother from hurting anyone else. Originally, Holly thought it was too late to seek justice.

“It doesn’t matter how old the victim is — if they have been abused, if someone has perpetrated acts of sexual abuse on them they need to tell somebody,” said Burnet County District Attorney Sonny McAfee. “I appreciate victims that have the strength to come forward, and I hope more will come forward.”

He is pleased with the outcome of the case that his prosecutors and the judge call the worse abuse case of their career.

“When you have a mother that joins with the father and sexually abuses children, tortures their own children and places them in closets and isolates from other family members from their own gratification — I can think of nothing more horrible than that,” said McAfee.

For Holly, she says she has no ill feelings toward her mother because her mother had no feelings for her children. Coming forward was never about revenge, but it has brought a sense of relief.

“I felt like a weight has been lifted more than anything, “said Holly. “I felt like I could finally let go of it.”

She is ready to let go of being the victim, and start living a new life.

History of child sex abuse sentences in the Hill Country

The Hopkins case joins a list of other hefty sentences handed down by jurors and judges in Burnet and Blanco Counties when it comes to child sex abuse cases.

A Blanco County jury found James Alba guilty on eight counts of sexual assault of a child. He was sentenced to 456 years in jail.

In 2015, a Burnet County judge stacked life sentences for Grady Hodge who got 714 years in prison. He was convicted on 16 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, and six counts of indecency by sexual contact.

In 2013, Robert Arteaga received 23 life sentence for molesting a young girl, plus 17 ten-year sentences for child pornography.