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Edmund LOPES





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Baptist minister
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1966 / 1970
Date of birth: September 27, 1935
Victims profile: His girlfriend / Phyllis Brown (his second wife)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife / Strangulation
Location: Dupage County, Illinois, USA
Status: Sentenced to a 50- to 99-year prison sentence in 1972. Paroled, 1983

Pastor Edmund Lopes could bring a congregation to its knees. Little did they know that years before, after murdering his wife and stabbing his girlfriend, he had found religion in prison and jumped parole to become a Baptist minister-- until police caught up with him, ten years after his escape.


Convict-turned-minister To Be Release

By Art Barnum - Chicago Tribune

May 18, 1992

When Rev. Edmund Lopes is released from the Illinois state prison at Menard on Monday, he has told prison authorities he intends to head straight for the isolation of eastern Washington State.

That is the area he called home for almost a decade before it was discovered that he had jumped parole after being released from another Illinois prison after serving part of a sentence imposed for murdering his wife in Du Page County in 1970.

After his past was unearthed in the Northwest, he was brought back to Illinois and sent to Menard for 3 months after state hearings.

That prison time ends Monday, and the 57-year-old-convict-turned-minister has been told the Washington Department of Corrections has agreed to take over supervision of his activities, according to Nic Howell, spokesman for the Illinois DOC.

Lopes was sentenced to a 50- to 99-year prison sentence in 1972, two years after his wife, Phyllis Brown, was strangled and buried in a vacant field. Her body was uncovered by a construction crew.

In 1983, Lopes was paroled after serving 12 years, and within a week, dropped from sight.

Last December, it was discovered that he was living in West Richland, Wash., had remarried, and had become a Baptist minister.

When he was returned to Illinois, Lopes asked to be returned to parole status without serving additional prison time because he had led a law-abiding life since 1983.

However, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board in February voted to impose a three-month sentence for jumping parole, a sentence that Howell said Friday was "clean and posed no difficulties."The board also said his parole should extend an additional three years.

However, Howell said that if Lopes maintains a clean record and reports to Washington parole authorities as they instruct him to, his relationship with Illinois officials will end with his departure from Menard on Monday.

Lopes previously resigned from the Baptist church he was ministering in Washington.


Killer Pastor Confesses, But Truth Is More Banal

The New York Times

January 08, 1992

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. When a Southern Baptist pastor told his congregation that he was a reformed hired killer who had slain 28 people, members of the congregation were willing to forgive him.

But some found the truth less appealing when they learned that the minister, Ed Lopes, is a parole violator from Illinois who killed his wife and left a female companion for dead.

The disclosures have divided the First Baptist Church in this town of 3,900 people in southern Washington. Some members paid the pastor's $5,000 bail. Others want him to quit.

"You're going to have an upset congregation no matter how it turns out," said one member, Carl Nyborg Jr. "Some people are upset, some aren't. Some people have forgiven him, some haven't. I can forgive him."

Illinois Wants Him Back

Among those who cannot are officials of the Illinois Corrections Department, which filed an extradition request asking that Mr. Lopes be returned to prison for violating the terms of his parole. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The 56-year-old pastor is no longer talking to reporters. "I'm trying to let this thing die," he said last week.

The story came to light in December when a reporter for The Tri-City Herald, which covers Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, checked out claims that Mr. Lopes had made to church groups in the region since 1985.

When the Illinois authorities learned that Mr. Lopes was in West Richland, they issued a warrant and he was arrested Dec. 12. He spent a night in jail before posting bail and then took the pulpit to say the arrest was a mistake.

Urged to Come Clean

But the newspaper, law-enforcement officers and other Baptist pastors in town began to disclose the truth. Fellow pastors met with Mr. Lopes on Christmas Eve and urged him to come clean. Five days later, he returned to the pulpit.

"I have lived a lie," Mr. Lopes told the congregation he has led since 1988. "You've come to hear a confession, and you will."

He said that:

*He did not slay up to 28 people as a hired killer for the Mafia, and had lied about working for Murder Inc., the gang of contract killers.

*He was never counseled by either Charles W. Colson, a former Nixon aide who was convicted of conspiracy in the Watergate cover-up, or by the evangelist Billy Graham.

*He did not find God on death row, but by reading a Bible in a prison cell.

The truth was more banal. Mr. Lopes was convicted of strangling his second wife, Phyllis Brown, near Wheaton, Ill., in 1970, and of stabbing and choking his companion, Shirley Johnston, who was left for dead in Bensenville, Ill., a month later.

Mr. Lopes told his congregation that he began lying in prison to impress his current wife, Joan, a pen pal.

Church members complained when Mr. Lopes was arrested, but the calls have tapered off since he admitted lying, said Andy Miller, the Benton County prosecutor.

"I understand the church people thinking this guy has turned his life around, but a sense of justice for the victims' families needs to be remembered," Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Lopes was convicted of murder and attempted murder in 1972 and was sentenced to 50 to 99 years in prison. He was paroled in 1983 on condition that he not leave the state, but fled within 10 days, said Nic Howell, a spokesman for the Illinois Corrections Department.



MO: Baptist minister; "Bluebeard" slayer of wife and girlfriend.

DISPOSITION: 20 years for attempted murder, 1971; 50-99 years for murder, 1972 (paroled, 1983); arrested as parole violator, Jan. 1992 (released again, May 1992).

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers


Edmund Lopes



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