Medical Examiner: Forest Hill Pastor's Killer High on "Angel Dust"

By Greg Janda
|  Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013  |  Updated 7:55 AM CDT
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Search for Answers in Pastor's Murder

Derrick Birdow, inset, with the church in the background.


The Tarrant County Medical Examiner has revealed the man who beat a Forest Hill pastor to death with an electric guitar, then died in police custody, was killed by taking phencyclidine -- also known as PCP, Wet, or Angel Dust.

The ME says Derrick Birdow, 33, stopped breathing in the back of a police cruiser on Oct. 29, after beating Rev. Danny Kirk, Sr., 53, to death at the Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church.

According to Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani, Birdow's cause of death was "associated with phencyclidine ingestion," though the manner of death was determined as accidental.

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1000+ Show Up to Remember Murdered Pastor

Pastor Danny Kirk Senior was beaten to death Monday. Suspect died while in police custody. Pastor's son Danny DJ Kirk, Jr brought the house down with a personal and powerful song to his father.

Slain Pastor Remembered at Vigil

Hundreds of mourners and the slain pastor's family filled Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church's parking lot to remember Danny Kirk Sr. The suspect's widow, a member of the congregation, also attended the vigil.
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"We suspected very early on, based on his behavior, that we might be looking at PCP, just based on prior experience and our knowledge of that drug," Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis told the Star-Telegram. "I wasn't at all surprised to find that he had it in his system."

Forest Hill police found Birdow attacking Kirk with an electric guitar after Birdow crashed his car into the church and attacked church janitor John Whitaker.

Police used stun guns multiple times on Birdow to enable them to be able to take him into custody, leading to questions about if those could have caused Birdow's sudden death in the back of the patrol car after the incident.

Peerwani concluded that the shocks did not contribute to Birdow's death and officials say only one of the two prongs used by the stun gun actually punctured Birdow.

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