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.
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.
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