She was the loyal wife standing by her cancer-stricken husband. He was the Dallas police sergeant struggling to support his family and fighting to live.
But Anna says for years she suffered abuse in silence, believing that her husband would be believed over her. She and her attorneys say he hit her with pillows, locked her in rooms, shoved her, held her down, but was very careful not to leave marks or bruises.
“I thought he's just going to continue doing this and this is what I have to live with,” she said in an interview with WFAA.
Anna is fighting back now, but still terrified.
Her ex-husband was arrested Wednesday, accused of stalking her and breaking into her Aubrey home. She and their four children are currently in hiding because of the concerns for her safety.
“He'll hurt me especially if he gets incarcerated or loses his employment. I'm going to be hurt,” she says.
He has since been released on $7,500 bail. His mugshot shows evidence of his most recent tongue cancer. Surgeons removed his jaw and replaced it with his femur last year.
Epley told WFAA via Facebook that the allegations against him are untrue.
“I have everything in this house to clear my name and show her to be a full-blown liar,” he wrote. “(She) has used the system to smear my name.”
Epley told WFAA that his daughter was old enough under the penal code to make the decision about whether to let him or anyone else in.
“If my daughter had let me in and gave me a Pepsi, is that a burglary? Guess so in the City of Aubrey,” he said.
Epley’s fight with cancer first made headlines in December 2009 in a Dallas Morning News story about how he was fighting a rare form of tongue cancer and worrying how he would confront the loss of his pay check and thousands of dollars in medical bills. At the time, he was continuing to work even though he was undergoing grueling radiation and chemotherapy.
The story resulted in about $100,000 being raised to help the family.
Epley won that battle with cancer, but it reoccurred. Last year, his jaw was removed and rebuilt with his femur.
The Epleys split in June 2015. Their divorce was finalized in December.
At that court hearing, Epley admitted that he had gained access to Anna’s home without his estranged wife being aware.
He told the judge that he had gone there to pick up his daughter’s clothes and that his then 11-year-old daughter had climbed in through a window to let him in. He also took pictures while he was there. One picture taken in Anna’s bathroom – showing that he and his girlfriend, also a Dallas police officer, were in the house.
That picture was a key piece of evidence in the criminal charges filed against him, Aubrey police say.
He told the court that he took pictures because the house was messy and a fire hazard. He said he does not think his children should be living that way.
“My daughter let me in,” he testified. “There is no offense. I’ve been a peace officer for 15 years. My 11-year-old daughter can let me into her house.”
Epley denied that he had ever been abusive to his ex. He told the court that he moved out because she kept threatening to call the cops and he didn’t want to lose his job.
“I have done nothing, but work my entire life to provide for them,” he told the court.
Anna, who had already said that he had been in her house, had reported the incident to police in October. She said she realized that he had been in the house because he began sending her messages that gave descriptions of different parts of the house.
Their daughter, now 12, told police that her dad picked her up from school and drove her to the house. She climbed through a window and let her dad and his girlfriend into the house. She told police that she saw him leave with a computer, baby pictures, and social security cards. She said he told her he also took some birth certificates.
He told WFAA that he did not take anything from the house.
The arrest warrant that police obtained, accused Epley of stalking and listed a number of other allegations backing up the charge.
It mentions the ever increasingly disturbing messages on social media made by Epley.
On February 20, he posted on Instagram that, "If I ever go terminal, I have enough rounds for my list…never mess with a dead man."
He made a similar post on Facebook, writing “How do I know I have always walked that line, one step away from the penitentiary…If I ever go terminal, I have enough rounds for my list.” He ended saying, he was just kidding, maybe.
“I’m the first one on that list I’m sure,” Anna says. “I’m sure of that.”
The affidavit also lists incidents of him calling the police to conduct a welfare check at her house, showing up at the children’s school and acting aggressive, and sending threatening and harassing messages.
“Sgt. (David) Bruce believes that the pattern of harassment is increasing and becoming more hostile and fears for the safety of Ms. Epley and her children,” Bruce wrote in an affidavit for the arrest warrant.
Anna is frightened that he's already out. She and her attorneys at least want him to be put on electronic monitoring.
“When it’s an abuse situation, the abuse that was going on is a prelude to someone more serious,” says her attorney Gary Sibley. “Generally the real danger is after the arrest.”
Aubrey police officials say they are also “extremely concerned” for her safety.
“It’s never a good thing when a police officer is on the other side of the law,” said Aubrey police Lt. William Townsend. “We took an oath to work for the victim and in this case, Ms. Epley is the victim. We need do everything in our power to protect her and her family and keep her safety, regardless of who the suspect is and his profession.”
Anna says she is well aware that him losing his job could be financially devastating because he would likely no longer be able to pay child support or the children’s health insurance.
“I have nothing to gain out of this, just to make sure I'm alive for them, and that I'm there to watch them grow up,” says.
Still, she says she is just grateful that someone listened to her.
“I can’t let him control me anymore,” Anna said. “I have to fight back. If I cry then, I'm doing what he wants again.”