Police: Arlington Pastor Suffocated, 2 Charged With Murder
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Monday afternoon Arlington police held a press conference with more details about the murder of an Arlington pastor and the person charged with the crime.
Steven Lawayne Nelson, 24, who was arrested Saturday at an Arlington townhome complex, has been charged with capital murder. Anthony Gregory Springs, 19, was arrested and charged Monday with capital murder.
The townhomes, in the 2400 block of Brown Boulevard, are just a few blocks from NorthPointe Baptist Church where Rev. Clint Dobson and ministry assistant Judy Elliott were both attacked last week.
During the press conference officials with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office released information that Dobson, 28, had been suffocated with a plastic bag.
According to officials 69-year-old Elliott, who remains hospitalized after being severely beaten, has not yet been able to speak with investigators. “Hopefully we’ll be able to speak with the surviving victim, so that we can get an idea of how entry was gained and we can confirm what may have occurred,” Arlington Deputy Police Chief Jaimie Ayala said optimistically.
During the press conference police also confirmed that a second “person of interest” was in custody. Late Monday afternoon police revealed that person to be Springs..
Springs, 19, was taken into custody for outstanding traffic tickets on Saturday and subsequently led authorities to Elliott’s car, which had been missing since the victim’s were attacked on March 3.
“We are well on our way to building a case that can be, and will be, fully prosecuted in court,” said Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowman.
According to police, credit cards from both Dobson and Elliott were used to purchase gas and retail items, some of which from The Parks Mall in Arlington.
“We had information that the victims’ credit card was being used at a local retailer,” said Arlington Deputy Chief Barry Hines. “Officers quickly began following up on those tips and ultimately was able to lead to the arrests of both of those persons.”
Investigators say there is store surveillance video showing both men using the victims’ stolen credit cards.
Police say cooperation from the public and the leads they provided played a big role in the investigation. “Had it not been for the help of the public, our Citizens on Patrol groups, out Crime Watch groups and the Arlington Clergy Police Alliance Program, this case could not have been solved,” said Deputy Chief Hines.
Investigators say they have received many leads, including information from two women who were with Nelson and Springs after Dobson’s murder.
In a four-page affidavit, police state “while watching television, a news story about the incident played before the group. Both Nelson and Springs began laughing and making inappropriate comments about Dobson’s death. Both females know Nelson and Springs to commit aggravated robberies together and they were recently trying to rob people within the past couple of days.”
The affidavit also says Nelson confessed to Springs that he had robbed the church and further admitted he had killed Dobson.
Police have said robbery appears to have been a motive in the case.
Nearly a dozen members of NorthPointe and First Baptist Church of Arlington attended the press conference. The church members were visibly shaken after learning for the first time that “someone they love very much had been suffocated”.
Steven Lawayne Nelson has a long criminal history. In 2007 he was convicted and served time on theft charges. Then in 2009 he was sentenced to two years in prison for theft and burglary.
Most recently, in October of 2010, Nelson was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Dallas. He was sentenced to eight years probation for that charge.
Nelson and Springs are each being held in the Arlington City Jail on bail totaling more than $1 million.