In November 1933, a couple of months after Hopper’s arrest, the story began to come together when her son, John, was arrested for receiving stolen property. The complaint against 21-year-old John, or Johnny, Hopper was that he had received $20,401.49 from his mother. Angela Hopper was already in prison, and John would shortly join her there.
Young Mr. Hopper, with his aunt Theresa O’Farrell in the courtroom looking on, denied that he knew the money his mother sent him was stolen. As reported in the Idaho Statesman on February 10, 1934, he said “Why if it was patent that this was stolen money did not the telephone company, the merchants and businessmen who received this money in Boise suspect something wrong?”
The prosecution argued that he knew well his mother’s financial circumstances and must have known the money was obtained illegitimately. They produced telegrams Hopper had sent to his mother from California demanding money time and again. Johnny Hopper had an extensive record of juvenile offenses and had a reputation in his Boise neighborhood for dealing violently with his mother and aunt when he didn’t get his way.
Hopper was a dapper looking young man with a high pompadour and a pencil thin mustache. He was described in newspaper reports as a Hollywood playboy who lived in a luxurious apartment. He had married an exotic chorus girl, though that match didn’t last.
The jury took just a few hours of deliberation to find John Hopper guilty. He was sentenced to from two to five years in February of 1934.
The “playboy” seemed to quickly mend his ways while in prison, deciding to become a lawyer and taking a correspondence course in the law while there. His good behavior convinced the parole board to set him free in November 1935 after just 20 months in prison.
In December of that year, John Hopper was on his way back to Los Angeles where he had a job lined up and an attorney interested in helping him pursue his legal career.
Three weeks later Hopper was back in a Boise jail charged with being drunk and disorderly. He failed to appear at his hearing, forfeiting his bond. It was the first of several arrests and forfeitures for Hopper.
In May 1936, his mother, convicted embezzler Angela Hopper was conditionally pardoned and released under parole to a couple in San Francisco.
In May, 1937, things got serious in Boise. Police answered a call at 420 Franklin Street, the O’Farrell family mansion, and discovered Hopper’s aunt, Theresa O’Farrell in a semi-conscious condition on her front lawn. She had been beaten over the head with a heavy platter. Inside the house they found pieces of the platter in a pool of blood. While investigators were in the house, John Hopper entered and demanded to know “what has happened here?” They noted that his clothing was bloodstained and quickly arrested him for assault.
A few days later, Hopper was charged with a complaint of insanity. His aunt, Theresa O’Farrell was still recovering in a Boise hospital where her condition was serious. He was judged to be an inebriate and committed to the state mental hospital at Blackfoot by district court Judge Charles F. Winstead.
Dr. V. E. Fisher and Dr. Mary Calloway testified that the former Hollywood night life addict should be placed under medical treatment with the possibility that he might be cured.
Under Idaho law, two years was the maximum he could spend at the mental institution. He would not come close to pushing that limit.
John Hopper was released from the asylum five months later, paroled by the hospital’s superintendents. They had the power to do so but took quite a lot of heat for it. The Director of Charitable Institutions, Lewis Williams, said, “I approved the parole. If a mistake has been made I assume all responsibility. But until Hopper demonstrates by misconduct that a mistake has been made, I have no apologies to make.” Hopper left the state for San Francisco.
While researching this story I expected to find evidence that Lewis Williams would be called on his mistake of releasing John Hopper. I found no further record of imprisonment for him, though. He sold cars for a while, then dropped off the radar. John Hopper died in California in 1951. The Idaho Statesman on June 4, 1953, noted that “Mrs. Angela O’Farrell Hopper, a resident of Boise until moving to San Francisco, Cal., several years ago, died there after a long illness.” No mention was made of her pioneer family or her time in the glare of a Boise spotlight.