Many Americans have never heard of Alamo or his ministry, but Lynn LaRowe, a Texarkana Gazette reporter who's been covering Alamo's story for years, says he began making a name for himself in Los Angeles in the late 1960s.
"Tony Alamo said God appeared before him in his body and told him that he needed to go spread the Lord's message or that he would surely die," Lynn says.
In 1966, Alamo married Susan Lipowitz and established the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation. "Susan Alamo actually operated a television ministry," Lynn says. "Tony Alamo would make cameo appearances as a gospel singer."
Their ministry gained thousands of followers and became a huge success. Then, in 1982, Susan died of cancer. Former members say that's when Alamo's dark side was unleashed.
Alamo reportedly put his wife's dead body in his dining room, and former church members say he made men, women and children pray over her corpse for almost two years. They were told their prayers would raise Susan from the dead, but when it didn't work, a former member says Alamo blamed his faithful followers.