A murder rocked the faith of an entire congregation. Prayer became the tool members of the Creekside Church of Christ use to combat the evil.
Those daily conversations with God all seek one answer: for Midlothian Police to solve the murder of Terri “Missy” Bevers.
Creekside Church Lead Minister Clint Rhodes was only on staff for seven months when an unknown suspect murdered Bevers as she was setting up for a fitness class at the church in the early morning hours of April 18, 2016. A member of the church’s elder board, who had been contacted by police, called Rhodes to deliver the tragic news.
“It is something that you never expect to get a phone call on," Rhodes said. "[...] At that time I didn’t know a crime had occurred. I just thought that there was an unresponsive person in the building. I didn’t know what the story was but when you see the building surrounded by police you realize very quickly that a crime has occurred. This would not be the response if someone collapsed.”
Rhodes stated people immediately thought, “ok what is our church going to need from us, what is the community going to need from us, and how is it that we walk through this in a Christ-honoring way."
The first few weeks after the murder were chaotic for the church as the congregation and leaders griped with reality. They had to figure then out how to continue their mission of service and continuing to share the love of Christ.
“I think that one of the things that was hard for a lot of our people was just the feeling of being invaded in the sense that someone broke into a safe place and committed a terrible act,” Rhodes explained. “It is just a hard thing to deal with.”
Rhodes said the church has remained cooperative with police throughout the investigation by helping in any way they can.
Over time, Rhodes shared that their faith has played a significant part in the healing process.
“I think that is the deal from the beginning of this — we have known that God is bigger than this. His will and his overreaching sovereignty are bigger than this thing,” Rhodes stated. “This is an example of the fallen world that we live in, but God is still bigger than that. He has still already overcome this evil and darkness that surrounded this murder.”
Rhodes continued, stating the murder is a traumatic event that has affected the whole community. He noted the struggle for the church and its congregation does not compare to what the Bevers’ family has gone through during this time. The church has met with the family since the murder and has continued to pray for them and God’s direction in the investigation.
“We just really want this to come to a close by finding the person who is responsible for it or the person that is responsible for it confesses so that the community can move on," Rhodes said.
Rhodes added that — while there is evil in the world — goodness and love are the tools that overcome.
Since the murder, the Creekside Church leaders have evaluated the existing security measures. They have also made improvements that have included installing a new security system, cameras, and locks.
“We have installed an upgraded security system and things like that since then and also fixed the things that were damaged, making sure that we continue to have our facility to continue to be a safe place,” Rhodes explained. “We obviously had a camera system and felt like we had a good system. It is one of those things where you do everything that you can do knowing that there is nothing that can fully stop the evil that would happen in the world. You just do the best that you can.”
Rhodes encourages people to continue praying for the Bevers family, the community, the police department, and for a resolution to the crime.
“We also do pray for the possibility that the person would find it in their heart to confess to bring this to light," Rhodes said. "Ultimately we pray for a resolution.”
Since the initial investigation began, Midlothian Police appointed a new investigator, Sgt. Andy Vaughn, who took the lead on the investigation in January. Officers are still actively following any and all leads.
The suspect captured on security cameras is described between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-7 and does appear to have lighter skin color. At the time of the murder, the suspect was wearing what appeared to be police tactical gear.
People 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.
Those with information but would like to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of Ellis County at 972-937-7297. Crime Stoppers pays cash for tips that help lead to an arrest.