by John W. Taylor
On April 18, 2016, surveillance video from the Creekside Church of Christ in Midlothian, Texas captured an individual breaking into the church. It was 3:50 a.m. For the next 25 to 30 minutes the perpetrator roamed around the church in what appeared to be a tactical, police-like uniform, including a helmet. At 4:16 a.m., 45-year-old Terry “Missy” Bevers pulled into the church’s parking lot for her 5:00 a.m. fitness class. The first student arrived at 4:35 a.m. but waited until 5:00 a.m. to enter the church. A few minutes later, students called 9-1-1 after finding Missy bludgeoned to death inside the church’s main entrance.
Missy was a wife and mother of three. She was also an instructor for “Camp Gladiator,” an intense four-week training course that pushes participants outside their physical comfort zone. Missy provided support and encouragement to those willing to wake-up hours before an acceptable time. She also walked the walk. Missy was not only fit, but incredibly strong. Showing her commitment to her psychical regimen, on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 7:55 p.m., the day before her murder, Missy posted on Facebook: “If it’s raining, we’re still training…No Excuses…You are Gladiators!” referencing the training session the next morning. She also posted the exact time and location of the training session on Facebook: 5:00 a.m., Creekside Church of Christ.
The church’s video security system captured the perpetrator eerily lurking throughout the building. The individual was dressed in dark police tactical clothing, including a helmet that obscured the individual’s face. As a result, it is difficult to discern much about the individual’s appearance, including even identifying the person’s gender (For simplicity, the perpetrator will be referred to as male). The perpetrator appeared to be carrying either a claw hammer or mallet. While inside the church, he opened doors, broke windows, and appeared to be searching for something. According to police estimates, the individual is between 5’2” and 5’7” tall.
In the security footage, the individual seemed to be giving the appearance of looking for something rather than actually looking for items. The perpetrator walked into a room and then back out seconds later, which kept the assailant from adequately searching the room. Many of his actions appeared random and without purpose, as if he wanted to give the appearance to police and church staff that someone burglarized or vandalized the building rather than actually engaging in those activities. The perpetrator took nothing of value nor made any real attempt to find anything of value.
With Missy’s murder occurring minutes after the perpetrator’s arrival, the intruder most likely wanted the authorities to think Missy’s murder was random. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since nothing was taken, we must assume robbery was not the objective. If the intruder planned the murder and associated cover-up, then he likely methodically orchestrated these actions ahead of time. When a perpetrator engages in deceptive activities, it takes time and focus away from the actual crime. It is also deliberate. A stranger or random criminal would have no need to deceive law enforcement. Only a person who law enforcement would likely suspect would have the motivation to divert police in an alternate direction.
The fact the perpetrator concealed his identity while inside the church likely means he knew there were cameras in the church. If he was unaware of the cameras, he would not have needed to put his helmet on until close to the time Missy arrived. Further, he likely knew Missy would be alone and he planned to kill her; therefore, it was rather immaterial if she saw him or not. The helmet prevented the security cameras from displaying his face or even hair. With a planned murderous act, dark clothes would be expected, but not clothes that impersonated a police officer. Like the helmet, the police outfit was most likely part of a cover. The uniform served no purpose within the church. However, the perpetrator’s vehicle was never (officially) identified by police, per news reports. If the intruder drove a car (or was driven) into the church’s parking lot, it would have been detected by the exterior surveillance cameras. One possibility is that the perpetrator rode a motorcycle to the church. Though the outfit appeared to be that of a tactical police uniform, it also looked like an outfit one would wear when riding a motorcycle, sans the “police” insignia. The perpetrator could have worn that outfit to and from the crime scene without drawing attention to himself. The police insignia on his back could have been used to possibly mitigate the likelihood a police officer would pull him over. The perpetrator may have believed if a police officer pulled up behind him, he would have assumed the motorcyclist was law enforcement on his way to or from a shift.
On the video, the perpetrator drug his right foot and walked with his feet pointing outward. He demonstrated a distinctive gait. He appeared to be overweight, though the tactical disguise could have been padded to give the appearance of a heavier person. The individual moved in a slow and deliberate fashion similar to that of an older person or someone suffering from an injury or chronic condition. The perpetrator may have tried to fake a limp or some other mannerism as further concealment, but if he had, there would have been times on the surveillance tape where his true gait materialized. The intruder’s movements appeared consistent, which indicates he was most likely not attempting to conceal his gait.
The perpetrator did not shoot Missy, which would have been the most effective and efficient means of killing her. The church is not located in a heavily populated area; therefore, a gunshot would have most likely gone unheard. The killer chose to murder Missy in a brutal and painful fashion. The manner in which this crime was carried out seems to indicate the killer knew Missy well and wanted her to suffer. He wanted to inflict serious bodily harm to her, rather than just systematically terminate her existence.
The killer chose to attack Missy from inside the church. This was also a deliberate decision. There was no effective place to hide or conceal one’s presence in close proximity to the main entrance. Missy most likely would have seen the perpetrator coming toward her outside the church. This would have prevented the assailant from having the advantage of surprise. Missy also would have been a formidable opponent and catching her off-guard would have significantly increased the chances of success. With Missy’s stellar physical conditioning, in open space, she could have easily escaped by running. By attacking her inside the church, the perpetrator provided himself with the tactical advantage of surprise, and it prevented Missy from being able to easily escape.
The perpetrator’s outfit may have been designed in a manner to distort his physical dimensions, but most likely, the outfit was designed to enhance his ability to successfully brutalize and kill Missy. He needed to avoid placing too many layers of clothing or other items on his person, which could have impeded his ability to attack Missy. He likely wore the helmet and protective wear about his body to protect himself from a potential counterattack from Missy.
Exterior cameras at a nearby SWFA Outdoors hunting and fishing store captured a car in their parking lot for approximately six minutes around 2:00 a.m. on the morning of April 18, 2016. It is believed to be a white or silver 2010 to 2012 Nissan Ultima with an oval sticker on the back bumper. At times, the car’s lights were off. Police indicated that they do not believe the car is connected to Missy’s murder, but they want to talk to the driver as he/she may have seen something or someone. The timing of the Nissan in the parking lot does not line-up with the times the perpetrator entered or likely exited the Creekside Church. However, SWFA is only a half mile from the church. Further, a car sitting in the parking lot of a closed store in the middle of the night is unusual. With the publicity surrounding Missy’s murder, the fact the driver has not come forward is note-worthy. It is possible the person is unaware the police are looking for him, but it’s also possible the individual was either involved in some unrelated nefarious activity or is connected to Missy’s murder. Either way, the car’s proximity and timing is close enough for it to warrant serious law enforcement attention.
According to police-provided information, Missy and her husband, Brandon Bevers, had marital problems and financial issues. In the context of a murder, any issue within a marriage can be amplified and appear to be motive. Unfortunately, all relationships undergo problems, but a vast majority of them do not end in murder. During an interview, Brandon acknowledged that he and Missy experienced problems, but he indicated that they were dealing with their problems. Law enforcement should always look closely at the spouse, but realize that since most marriages experience problems, it should not be the deciding factor.
According to reports, Brandon Bevers has a solid alibi. He was fishing in Mississippi at the time of the murder, which police independently verified. There is nothing to indicate her husband had any reason to harm Missy. Many internet sleuths identified a similar walk and posture between Brandon’s father, Randy, and the person in the church’s surveillance tape. However, Randy was in California at the time of the murder, though there are many physical similarities between Randy and the perpetrator. Police have indicated that no one in Missy’s family, nor her friends, or co-workers is a suspect. Regardless, with a planned murder, the perpetrator almost undoubtedly knew Missy.
According to Missy’s friends, she received a “creepy” message on LinkedIn from an unknown male, three days prior to her murder. Police uncovered “familiar and intimate” communications between Missy and male individuals who were not her husband. Friends described Missy as being more concerned and acting as if someone was following her or after her in the days prior to her murder. This may have been more obvious or suspicious in hindsight rather than in real-time, but any of these clues could lead to the killer. This was a deliberate and planned act. Missy’s murder was also quite heinous, which leans more toward someone with significant anger toward her. The individual responsible for Missy’s murder likely had a close relationship or perceived close relationship with her. Though a more remote scenario, the perpetrator could have been a for-hire killer, even though the surveillance activities conveyed an individual far from professional or experienced in the criminal realm.
By definition, a “gladiator is an armed combatant who entertained audiences by engaging in violent confrontations.” Missy’s fitness training regiment involved emulating exercises and activities similar to what would assist a gladiator in skill enhancement and conditioning. Though Missy’s workouts were designed to improve her overall health, her perpetrator engaged in a real-life reenactment of these barbaric events, but likely only for his own morbid entertainment. Though premeditation can be only seconds, Missy’s murder was planned for days, if not weeks, in advance. This is a dangerous individual. Missy’s marked change in demeanor in the days prior to her death likely indicate she was becoming aware of the dangerousness of the individual who entered her life. The perpetrator contacted her in some manner – email, text, social media, or in person. Her communications are the key to linking the killer to Missy. This individual is likely closely following media reports of this case and his obsession with Missy has probably only slightly dissipated as a result of her death.
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Haaf, Landon, “Midlothian PD: No Family, Friends or Coworkers are Suspects in Bevers Murder,” WFAA 8 ABC, http://www.wfaa.com/article/news/crime/midlothian-pd-no-family-friends-or-coworkers-are-suspects-in-bevers-murder/206847689, May 20, 2016.
McPhate, Christian, “Missy Bevers’ Murder, Still Unsolved Nearly Two Years Later, Gets a New Detective,” Dallas Observer, http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/glenn-beck-puts-private-jet-up-for-sale-10595879, February 13, 2018.
Pandav, Jillian, “The Missy Bevers Case: What We Know,” Court Junkie Blog, http://courtjunkie.com/blog/page/6/, May 24, 2016.
Salinger, Tobias, “Fitness Instructor Murdered Before Early-Morning Workout Session at Texas Church,” New York Daily News, http://beta.nydailynews.com/news/crime/fitness-instructor-murdered-texas-church-article-1.2606128, April 18, 2016.
Spillyards, Allie, “2 Years Later: Hunt for Missy Bevers’ Killer Continues,” NBCDFW.com, https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/2-Years-Later-Hunt-for-Missy-Bevers-Killer-Continues–480155303.html, April 18, 2018.
Crimesider Staff, “New Video, Timeline Released in Woman’s Death at Texas Church,” Crimesider, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-video-timeline-released-in-terri-bevers-death-at-texas-church/, April 22, 2016
Unknown Author, “Murder in a Church: The Brutal Killing of Missy Bevers,” True Noir Blog, https://truenoirstories.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/missy-bevers/, March 28, 2017.
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John W. Taylor writes in the true crime genre at www.truecrimewriting.com. He has written short pieces and articles on the death of Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. John wrote and published Umbrella of Suspicion: Investigating the Death of JonBénet Ramsey and Isolated Incident: Investigating the Death of Nancy Cooper in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
John is the host of the true crime podcast “Twisted,” which can be found at www.twistedpodcast.com. It is available through iTunes, Stitcher, and Libysn. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.