Real Name: Bernie Lazar Hoffman
Aliases: Tony Alamo
Wanted For: Child Abuse, Harrassment, Tax Evasion
Missing Since: February 16, 1991
Details: In the 1970s, Tony Alamo and his wife Susan started a church and made compounds in Arkansas and California, which were often composed of the down-and-out. The compounds were known for having strong emphasis on cohesion where members prayed, ate and slept together, often in bunkhouses where as many as twenty people lived. The Alamo compound was not as controlling as the Moonies, in which many followers did get jobs as day workers and returned at dusk. Some resentment grew that while most followers lived a spartan existence, the Alamos had a lavish lifestyle, but this was mollified with the promise of similar rewards to the faithful.
In 1982, Susan Alamo died of cancer, and Tony buried her in an elaborate mausoleum. His personality also became more erratic, being prone to increased anger outbursts on the followers and being a martinet to any children of the followers, prescribing corporal punishment for kids who misbehaved. Followers also stood vigil with 24-hour a day prayers by the mausoleum, with Tony Alamo claiming his deceased bride will be resurrected as a proof of a miracle.
Despite this dictatorial behavior, outside the compound Tony Alamo had gained the reputation of a country singer and a businessman, who emphasized the importance of men's fashion. He had even gained notice of Hollywood stars and sports figures such as Mr. T, Michael Jackson and Hulk Hogan. Aside from the compound, Alamo became famous for jean jackets which were beautifully painted with themes such as animals or American geographic areas, and encrusted with crystals. Some of these jackets sold for four figures.
Tony Alamo produced the jackets by getting his followers to paint and affix the crystals, and it was not common for people to work 10-14 hour days. The compound had become a sweatshop. One follower complained to police and the Department of Labor in 1985 that compensation had not been forthcoming, and charges were prepared against Alamo for tax evasion and having ipso facto slave labor. When word got out, the jackets lost appeal with the public. In 1988, two female followers claimed they had been molested, and separate charges of child abuse had been prepared against Alamo. Before Tony could be arrested, he fled in 1989. He later began threatening federal judges and claiming that he would kidnap them in order for them to stand in his court.
On February, 16, 1991, Tony and others removed his wife Susan's body from her crypt, and has not been seen since. He is wanted for child abuse, tax evasion, threatening a federal judge, and other crimes.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the May 15, 1991 episode.
Results: Captured. On July 5, 1991, Alamo was arrested due to viewers' tips. In 1994, Alamo was convicted of tax evasion and was given a six year sentence. A separate charge of making death threats against a federal judge was dismissed. In 1995, the child abuse charges were dropped. That same year, Susan's daughter filed suit against him for Susan's remains, which were finally returned three years later. He was released in 1998.
However, in 2008, new allegations of child abuse and sexual abuse against Alamo were found. During the 1990s, he allegedly made young women and children his "wives" and took them across state lines to sexually abuse them. He was arrested and convicted of the charges in 2009. Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison, and remained there until his death on May 2, 2017.
- The Alamo Christian Foundation on Wikipedia
- Tony Alamo Website
- Fugitive Cult Leader Alamo Sells Chic Jackets on the Run
- Evangelist con-man seized after two years on the run
- Fugitive leader of cult arrested
- Television was key to Alamo's capture
- Inside the Arkansas compound, tales of abuse and neglect
- Tony Alamo, Evangelist Child Sex Abuser, Dies in Prison
- Tony Alamo, Apocalyptic Ministry Leader Convicted of Sex Abuse, Dies at 82