Michael Paul Hopfer

Michael Paul Hopfer

Michael Paul Hopfer, 37, formerly of Festus, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for robbing and pushing down Arlene Marschel, 82, of Herculaneum, who hit the pavement and died four days later from a head injury, according to court documents.

Hopfer pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and on July 8, Jefferson County Div. 6 Circuit Judge Troy A. Cardona sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Jefferson County assistant prosecuting attorney Jacob T. Costello handled the case.

The strong-arm robbery occurred July 11, 2016, at the Crystal City BP gas station, 801 N. Truman Blvd., where Hopfer was waiting at the pumps for a woman from Grace Presbyterian Church who had agreed to buy gas for him after he showed up at the church earlier that morning, Crystal City Police reported.

The church representative was inside the gas station paying for Hopfer’s gas when Marschel came out of the building with her wallet in her hand. Hopfer knocked her to the ground, took her wallet and drove off, the probable-cause statement said.

Marschel suffered a serious head injury and was transported by the Joachim-Plattin Ambulance District to Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Crystal City and then airlifted to Mercy Hospital St. Louis in Creve Coeur, where she died July 15, the report said.

Four witnesses saw the assault, and it also was recorded on surveillance video. Police reviewed the video and were able to get Hopfer’s license plate number and identify him.

He was arrested without incident July 15, 2016, in St. Louis, after authorities tracked his cell phone and staked out the area he was known to frequent, Crystal City Police Chief Chad Helms said at the time.

Marschel had lived in Hillsboro for many years and was well-known in the community. She was the wife of longtime Jefferson County building official, the late Alvin Marschel.

The couple had moved in 2011 from their Goldman home to Autumn Ridge Senior Living Apartments in Herculaneum, a family member told the Leader after her death.

Hopfer currently is in Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston.