The Polk County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023 that Jerry Hopper, age 46, of Cove, Arkansas was arraigned in the Polk County Circuit Court on the following charges:
Ct 1-Murder in the 2nd degree
Ct 3-Abuse of a corpse
Ct 4-Tampering with Evidence
Ct 5-Use of a communication device during the commission of a felony.
The charges are related to the disappearance and murder of Erin “Pepper” Lawrence.
Erin Lawrence was reported missing in April of 2020.
On * September 8, 2022, an inmate in the Polk County Detention Center took the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to a shallow grave in a heavily wooded area west of Hatfield, Arkansas. Investigators with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police processed the scene and recovered human remains.
On September 6, 2022, the Arkansas State Crime Lab confirmed the remains were in fact Erin Lawrence.
Jerry Hopper, who is currently an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, was transported back to Polk County to be arraigned on the new charges. Hopper entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment.
•All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
*[Eds. A press release dating Sept. 6, 2022, does state that an inmate led law enforcement officers to the grave on Aug. 8, 2022, and the remains of Lawrence had been positively identified on Sept. 6, 2022.]
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