Man pleads not guilty to abuse of corpse, other charges

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One of two people accused of letting a woman’s remains decompose in a bedroom while they cashed her disability checks and went about their lives appeared before a Miller County judge on Tuesday.

Tony Ken Hooker, 63, entered pleas of not guilty to abuse of a corpse, abuse of an endangered or impaired person and second-degree sexual assault Tuesday at a hearing before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson at the Miller County jail courtroom.

Earlier this year, a younger relative of Hooker’s girlfriend of 30 years, Debbie Sue Himes, 55, made an outcry of sexual abuse against Hooker, according to a probable cause affidavit. Also living with Hooker and Debbie Sue Himes in two homes Hooker owned in the 1200 block of Martha
Street was Christy Himes, Debbie Himes’ mentally disabled younger sister.

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Because Debbie Himes is in a wheelchair, her relatives were concerned that she would be unable to care for Christy Himes if Hooker went to jail. Adult Protective Services and Texarkana, Ark., police attempted to conduct a welfare check on Christy Himes and Debbie Himes allegedly refused to let them search either of Hooker’s houses.

Debbie Himes allegedly told investigators that her sister was in Tyler, Texas, and then in Alaska. Miller County police obtained search warrants for both houses and discovered a decaying corpse on a metal-framed bed in a bedroom. The body was wrapped in plastic and duct tape.

Debbie Himes allegedly admitted to spending her sister’s disability payments. Tony Hooker allegedly told investigators he and Debbie Himes lived in a different house than the one where the remains were found but said he continued to use a clothes dryer in the same room with the remains.

Hooker faces five to 20 years if convicted of second degree sexual assault. If found guilty of abuse of a corpse, Debbie Himes and Hooker face up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. If found guilty of abuse of an endangered or impaired person, the couple faces five to 20 years and a fine up to $15,000.

Hooker is being held in the Miller County jail. Himes is free on a $15,000 bond.

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