Suspect Held In Connection With Murder Of Arlington Pastor

updated 3/5/11 – 7:15 p.m.

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Police are holding Steven Lawayne Nelson, 24, on a pending capital murder charge in the killing of NorthPointe Baptist Church pastor Clint Dobson and severe beating of 69-year-old ministry assistant Judy Elliott.

The two were found at 4:00 p.m. Thursday at the church offices, located in the 2000 block of Brown Boulevard, near the intersection of Green Oaks Boulevard and Ballpark Way. Dobson was dead at the scene, while Elliott was in critical condition. She is expected to survive.

NorthPointe is a ‘mission church’ of First Baptist Church of Arlington.

Authorities were called to the scene after a friend of a church worker arrived at the church to find it locked.  A relative of another worker then placed a 911 call. Tiara Ellis Richard with the Arlington Police Department told CBS 11 News that, when officers arrived, they found two people inside of the church building – one man and one woman.

Nelson was apprehended Saturday after a brief standoff at the Woodbridge Apartments, less than a mile away from the crime scene.

During a Friday morning press conference First Baptist Arlington Senior Pastor Dr. Dennis Wiles said the murder of Dobson has been hard for the church staff and congregation to take.

“He was our friend and our brother in Christ and we love him deeply and we’re sadden today,” he said. ‘We’re shocked by what’s happened.”

According to Pastor Wiles the condition of the other victim, ministry assistant Elliott, has improved.

“The good news about Judy is, she’s doing some better. She’s in stable condition. She’s still in the hospital, as I think most of you know, in Fort Worth and we’re grateful for that,” he said. “We continue to pray for her and her husband, John, and we’re just trusting that she’s going to only continue to improve and I think that will bode well for all concerned.”

Nelson was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in October in Dallas and was sentenced to eight years of probation, according to public records. Since 2005, Nelson has served jail time for convictions of property theft, burglary and unauthorized use of a vehicle in the Dallas and Fort Worth area, records show.

KRLD Reports:

Robbery is suspected to be the motive behind the attack. Police say items were stolen from the church and from Dobson and Ellis.  Police also believe that the suspect or suspects stole Elliott’s car. Arlington Police Department spokeswoman Tiara Richard said the car, a 2007 off-white Mitsubishi Galant with Texas license plates DFR-352, was found Saturday. She released no other information, calling the details “vital elements of the investigative process.”

About an hour later, Richard announced that Nelson had been arrested and was being held “pending a charge of capital murder.”

Friday afternoon Oak Farms Dairy announced that they are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for the attacks. Anyone with information is asked to call Arlington police at (817) 274-4444.

The congregation is now left to grieve in disbelief, rattled by an attack on their own premises. “I come to pray. It only shows, the word of God says, there will be times like this,” said community member Fredrick Wilson.

“One thing I know is that God will expose whoever did it,” said church member Annette Wilson. “They will not hide long.”

Meanwhile, Dobson will be remembered by a message left on the church’s website: “I love reading, watching football, being a fanatic for the Texas Rangers, drinking coffee, and spending time with my amazing wife. Grace and peace to you.”

Dobson was a member of the Arlington Clergy and Police Partnership, a group of pastors and religious leaders in the city.  The group held a prayer vigil for Dobson Friday night.

The church plans to hold regular services Sunday at 11:00 a.m.; funeral services for Dobson are pending. Community members will hold another vigil for Dobson and Elliott at NorthPointe at 7 p.m. Saturday.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • Steve

    Who said anything about it being a shooting?

    • David

      It was ALL over the news as a shooting .. beginning as early as 5:00 tonight. I am sure that this individual saw it on the news .. come on people .. let’s stop blaming someone who has made a comment. Yes it was a poor choice of words .. but I am sure that whoever did this has not taken the time to get online and post anything!

    • Jo Humphrey

      Steve – MSNBC report online is where I read about it (via Newsvine).

  • Alan

    Dodged the bullet. Terrible choice of words.

  • One Dead, One Injured In Arlington Church Homicide | One Stop News Stand

    […] CBS Dallas / Fort Worth […]

  • stereo

    Yeah, who said anything about a shooting? maybe you know a little more then what you are saying???

    • tODD


    • Jim

      Stereo. Isn’t a little early for silly conspiracy theories. Perhaps the person who said that was just misinformed,

  • Big Picture

    I feel sorry for the families involved and the people who avoid a horrific event can only think and talk about themselves.

  • Kim Songer

    if u just moved to arlington hun u didnt move to a good area

    • Valerie

      this could happen anywhere, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Arlington. this just goes to show that there are just some really bad people out there, and will go to whatever extremes they have to get their point across..

      ive known clint for a couple years since he was first brought onto our staff at FBCA. its heartbreaking and it makes me sick to know that someone would go and do such a thing to someone who was so selfless and loved The Lord with all his heart.

      I speak for all of us at First Baptist Arlington when I say that we are praying for Clint’s wife, Judy and her husband, the Northpointe congregation, but also for the murderer- that he will come forward and that God will work in his life as well.

  • Sam

    If the suspect is described as “armed and dangerous” by police, it’s understandable that one would assume a gun is involved and refer to the murder as a “shooting.” Don’t be so harsh with the first poster.

    JPS is Tarrant County’s Level 1 trauma center, so it’s also understandable why a severely injured victim would be flown there after stabilization by medics. No reflection whatsoever on Arlington Memorial.

    North Arlington near this church is very nice, with numerous high-income neighborhoods and nice homes.

  • Albert

    She was taken to JPS due to it being a Level I Trauma center which Arlington Memorial is not. Many EMS protocols dictate this.

  • Deborah

    JPS has a much better trauma unit than Arlington. It sounds as if her injuries are severe enough she needs the extra trauma care. I am praying for her and her family.

    • SAL


  • liman

    Also VSBB if she wasn’t in such serious condition I am sure they would have sent her to Arlington Mem. I also imagine the members of the church would have helped with the expenses. I am not Baptist, but the Baptist people I know are some of the most generous and caring people. I can also imagine many generous people of all religions chipping in to help with her expenses if it is needed. This lady suffered a terrible trauma. The channel 4 news reported she also suffered a heart attack with the severe beating.
    This is such a horrible thing to happen to what I believe are very nice people. The young minister’s family will need a lot of prayers and TLC as well.

  • zzcc

    Wow..whn a lady called to into the radio station to fill the public in she said the shooter was killing off the children in the church after shooting the pastor…my heart dropped…i pray for the families God Bless.

    • Miranda Kaye Gaines

      YES I heard that to and started crying for them. She made it sound much worse. But no matter how many people there were its still so sad. I am praying for the families and the injured woman

  • SA;L


  • Jess Lindsey

    I love the way everyone takes everything to the extreme…the woman calling the radio station probably sent panic through parents. Folks need to get their info straight before they go opening their mouths. As for this gunman/woman coming forward so he/she can be forgiven by God….all this person needs for doing something this heinous is a date with a big, fat needle. I am sure whenever he/she is caught we will hear all about the pitiful upbringing and drug problem that led them to do this. WHATEVER. I am so over people and their whinings about why their lives are so bad that they feel the need to kill a defenseless minister and then attack this woman. There is no excuse, no reasoning for it except pure meanness and a cold heart.

    • J. Anthony Williams

      I am with you Jess. Can I push the needle in.

  • marc rigby

    carol i think tht was GOD speking to you to keep u out of harms way

    • Justin

      A, This is neither the time, nor the place…

    • A

      Yeah, that MUST be it! Surely it couldn’t have just been good timing…

      You religious people have the most ridiculously skewed view of things. A pastor gets shot to death: god not involved. Something good happens: god did it!

      When will you people wake up and realize your claims are nothing more than wishful thinking and superstition?

  • Jim

    Sal, your don’t get out much do you? I was actually trying to make sense of your comments. Then it hit me; Your remarks are just nonsensical bits of waste. Thanks

  • Steve

    For the record, I wasn’t accusing Carol of any wrongdoing. At the time I posted the question I already had inside information as to what happened to them, bad news travels really really fast within the church community.

    At the time, this was the only story I had seen on the subject and in it was no mention of a gun or shooting which lead to my question. I also thought there may have been a reason that information wasn’t given to the general public so I chose not to mention it then.

    I hope they find the animal or animals that did this soon. Keep your eyes out for that car people.

  • David


    You are a bad person

  • David

    its all about you right Carol.

  • David

    Imagine that, a business is run for profit. so crazy

  • Chris

    All of our thoughts and prayers go out to the Dobson family and the church family of NorthPointe Baptist Church. May God bless you and may He see you and guide you through this terrible tradegy. Blessings to all.

  • mlccandakeam

    Please find nice words to say in this time of need. This church and all the family members need all the prays they can get from all.

    My family and all of my friends here and in other states are praying for the church and all of the family’s that were hurt in this horrible turn of events.

    God bless all of you.

    • J. Anthony Williams

      I have nice words for the family and church members. I pray for their well being and comfort. I do not have any nice words for the person who committed this act.
      Sooner or later we as citizens will have to act (I do not mean being an idiot or doing something rash)the person or persons need to be punished to the full extent of the law. Or pretty soon you will need protection just to go to work. Or has it already come to that.

  • Kim Dar

    This hits really close to home since I work in a church office and some of the time I am here by myself. It makes me a little scared. Our door is always open and I cannot see who is coming in the door from my desk. We do not keep any money in the office and I hardly ever have money of my own. Some people may think we have money in the office because we do financial assistance, but anyone who has been here before knows we write checks only. It’s the new ones that don’t know how the process works that scare me a little.

    I will keep the congregation and the families in my prayers,

  • J. Meslier

    Christians are so funny. Carol only commented, repeating what she heard on the news. She proabably made an inappropriate metaphor, but she was obcviously shaken by the event. And note that she was looking for a church to join, obviously a Christian, and yet two of you good Christian souls dissed her and called her a bad person.

    So god was looking out for her. God loves her, hmmm wonder what god had against the pastor and elderly woman.

    Must have been Christian terrorists.

  • Elen

    As someone who has worked for many a trauma center, there is a reason JPS was chosen. They are a LEVEL ONE trauma center I believe, with more trauma physicians and equipment immediately when a patient comes in the ER>

    My prayers ae with this church, the families, the staff and all who love them.
    God will be there, just call on Him.

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