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Preacher Jimmy Hughes Accused of Being the Hitman in 'Octopus Murders' Case

Friday, October 2, 2009 at 3:11 pm
Hughes was arrested for the murder of a California tribal official and two friends
The year was 1981, and Fred Alvarez feared for this life. He was the vice chairman of the Cabazon Indian Tribe in California, as well as head of security at its casino. It was a successful operation, and he believed two outside men hired to run it -- financial consultant John Philip Nichols and his son John Paul Nichols -- were ripping them off.

Alvarez's mailbox had been shot up and his motorcycle had been tampered with. He was about to go to police when he -- along with friends
Patricia Castro and Ralph Boger -- turned up murdered, execution style...
Police say Rev. Jimmy Hughes was the shooter in the execution-style slayings
Detectives called them the "Octopus Murders" due their mystery and the many tentacles of investigation that turned up nothing. But John Philip Nichols always seemed at the center of the case. Three years after the slaying, Rev. Jimmy Hughes even confessed to being a bagman in the case, contending that Nichols had him deliver $25,000 to a man in Idyllwild as partial payment for the hit.

But that confession went no where. Police couldn't tie Nichols to the triple murders. So Hughes moved to Miami to launch Jimmy Hughes Ministries, which supposedly helps battered women and dope addicts in Central America.

The case went unsolved for 28 years. The elder Hughes would eventually do 18 months in prison after being convicted for soliciting a hitman in another murder-for-hire case. He died in 2001. The younger Hughes apparently still lives on Cabazon tribal land.

Detectives won't say what prompted them to charge Hughes after all these years. But it's clear they believe Hughes was the hitman, not the bagman. He was arrested at the Miami airport on charges of being the hitman in the Octopus case. He's now fighting extradition back to California.

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