Elizabeth Ann Pfeifer was last seen in the early morning hours of April 12, 1986. She left a party in Katy, Texas, with a man she didn’t know. Although she went to the party with several friends, she chose to leave with a stranger.
Investigators have relied heavily upon James Wesley Hopgood’s statement. (Hopgood is the man she left the party with.) We are certain Hopgood took Elizabeth to his garage apartment on Telephone Road, in Southeast Houston. We know she spent time with Hopgood, partying and having sex. Hopgood alleges that sometime around 3 a.m. on April 12, he returned to Katy with my sister.
According to Hopgood, Elizabeth got out of Hopgood’s vehicle at a gas station on Mason Road. Hopgood said Elizabeth seemed familiar with another person at the gas station, a man driving a brown pickup truck. Elizabeth, Hopgood said, got into the brown pickup and left with the man.
Hopgood was interviewed in the early weeks after Elizabeth went missing, but because there was no evidence of a crime, only his statement was taken. I insisted that police search his vehicle and home, but police refused, stating “without evidence, there is no crime. Without a crime, we have no right to search Hopgood’s belongings.”
Police let a dangerous man run free, as you will see later in this story. It’s ironic how things play out, because had police investigated my sister’s case (probable homicide) properly in 1986, Hopgood wouldn’t have inflicted more violence upon innocent people.
The problem with this account is twofold: Hopgood’s timeframes are incorrect when compared to those given by witnesses at the party, and Captain Dickerson says in 1986, the area on Mason Road was undeveloped and gas stations were not open that late. Elizabeth and her group of friends arrived at the party some time between midnight and 1 a.m., April 12, 1986. Elizabeth was seen leaving with Hopgood approximately an hour after the group arrived. If Hopgood indeed brought Elizabeth back to Katy from his apartment on Telephone Road in Houston, there is no way he and my sister could have made the journey to his apartment, had sex and did drugs, and then made the journey back by 3 a.m. Hopgood has been interviewed multiple times by the initial investigators and by Captain Dickerson. Hopgood either “doesn’t remember” or sticks with the initial statement he gave to police.
Hopgood’s in prison until 2035 for unrelated crimes. He is, however, a violent and dangerous man, and charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault. Contrary to what was originally told to me by the first investigative group, Hopgood’s never taken a polygraph. In 2009, he refused investigators’ requests to take one.
It doesn’t add up. I know, in my heart of hearts, what happened. I feel that Hopgood murdered my sister, but I have no proof. Because I have no proof, and because the investigators have no proof, someone got away with murder.
I also do not want my sister’s lifestyle or family issues to cloud this case. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether Elizabeth was drunk, stoned or sober when she left with James Hopgood. What matters is a crime was committed. Every woman deserves to come home – and I feel certain my sister wanted to come home. She relied upon the goodness of a stranger, and that person took advantage of my sister. Her body was probably dumped somewhere, like a piece of garbage.
No one deserves that fate – no one.
It’s frustrating, for all parties, when law enforcement cannot solve a case. Without the cooperation of our witnesses and a suspect, we cannot close this case. I appreciate the information given by the witnesses that have come forward. When I receive news about my sister, it’s a breath of fresh air, even when the information is painful. You who are brave and forthcoming – thank you.
But we need more. My guess is that more people know what happened and more people know the truth. Please be proactive if you know anything about Elizabeth’s case — it goes without saying that I’d love to see the case close while my aging mother is still alive. We also need to know where Elizabeth’s body is – please help our family. Elizabeth deserves a proper burial, and my mother and I want to see the case resolved.
If you have any information on Elizabeth’s case, please contact me via email/telephone, or contact Gay Dickerson at the Katy Police Department (281-391-4848). All tips and leads are welcome.