MIDLOTHIAN

Twenty-one months have passed since Terri “Missy” Bevers was murdered as she was setting up for a fitness class at the Creekside Church of Christ. Now leading the investigation is Midlothian Sgt. Andy Vaughn, who took over from the original investigator Cpl. Cody Moon who transferred back to the patrol division.

Midlothian Police are still following up on leads in the case, but no new information has come to light.

“I guess over the last few months I would say that we are averaging about 10 tips a week, easy. Those are the ones that are coming back to me. Email, phone calls, and crime stoppers (calls). You name it,” Vaughn said. “I still have some that we haven’t even got to yet. The tips are coming from out of state and some local. I had a gentleman from Australia call me and left a voicemail.”

Vaughn explained that the main body of tips that he receives from the public center on the suspect’s walk and the person’s physical stature captured on the church’s surveillance cameras. The tips that come to police are sorted, investigated, and tracked to its source to determine the credibility of the information.

According to a previous Daily Light article, Bevers was found dead at Creekside Church of Christ where she was preparing to lead a 5 a.m. exercise class on April 18, 2016.

Over the course of the investigation, investigators canvassed the nearby businesses and neighborhoods for people who may have seen something or captured security video. None of those leads have panned out. Police learned from a forensic reconstruction of the security tape provided by the church that the suspect is between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-7 and does appear to have lighter skin color.

Before the murder, the suspect is seen on video footage walking inside the church wearing police tactical gear and using a screwdriver or pry bar to open doors inside the church. Police found broken glass on the floor and discovered other signs of forced entry during the investigation of the crime scene.

The individual was wearing what appeared to be a helmet, a heavy vest with the word “Police” on the front and back, pants, gloves, and shinguards. The surveillance videos were motion trigger and did not capture the assault nor all of the moments inside the building. The external cameras were not functioning at the time.

“We are kind of putting a group of guys together, and we hope that we can get together within the next month,” Vaughn stated. “Primarily it will be myself and another couple officers that have been involved in the case. Just coming up with a plan for that. Trying to hand pick some folks to come in and start back from scratch.”

Assistant Police Chief Kevin Johnson stated that one of the most significant hurdles in the case has been the misinformation that has to be investigated.

“In this day and age, you have to change with the times. You have to understand that social media is how people communicate and how people get their news. Often it is a primary source,” Johnson explained. “What we have experienced and have spent a lot of time dispelling or investigation is just misinformation that circulated that got more information packed on it, combined with a theory, and a couple of guesses. Then all of a sudden someone thinks they have some real credible information.”

Johnson stated that this process is very time consuming, but every avenue has to be explored because it could help in solving the case.

The department has also consulted several investigators with other agencies to provide their expertise

“We have done that in a couple of different fashions. The first time we had homicide investigators, experienced homicide guys from Fort Worth and Dallas. We spent about eight hours and briefed the whole case,” Johnson stated. “We also went out to Austin. It was several months after this first presentation and presented to a cold case group that is hosted by Texas Sheriff’s Association. That was about a four-hour presentation that we gave them. Everybody from medical examiners to Texas Rangers to homicide guys, judges, trace evidence specialists, and a physiologist was present.”

Vaughn added that the department presented the case to members of the Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association, who asked insightful questions and made suggestions.

The department also looked at using DNA to help create a composite of the suspect.

According to a Brownwood Bulletin article published Nov. 9, 2017, DNA analysis was used to create a profile of a suspect’s facial skin tone characteristics in the Chantay Blankinship murder investigation. That visual profile very closely matched the murderer and led to his arrest shortly after it was returned to Brownwood Police.

“The little bit of physical evidence that we had we actually sent to a private lab. We sent it to them specifically because they were involved in that technology and the ability to do that,” Johnson said. “The problem was the quality of the sample we sent was not sufficient. They needed more of a complete profile and what we had was a partial and mixed profile.”

Johnson said the last unsolved murder in Midlothian is from the early 1980s when the body of an Arlington man was found in a field near Padera Lake.

Vaughn stated that there is not a suspect at this time. He encourages people if they have information about the case to come forward and contact police.

Anyone with information related to the case can contact the Midlothian Police Department at 972-775-7624. The police department is located at 1150 U.S. Highway 67 in Midlothian.

If people have information but would like to remain anonymous, please contact Crime Stoppers of Ellis County at 972-937-7297. Crimes Stoppers pays cash for tips that help lead to an arrest.