Feds, Texas Rangers Aid Midlothian Police in Fitness Instructor Murder Investigation

ATF, unnamed federal agency join murder investigation, police say

Midlothian police revealed new information Wednesday in the investigation into a fitness instructor killed inside a church Monday morning.

Missy Bevers, 45, arrived at the Creekside Christian Church at about 4 a.m. Monday to prepare for her early-morning Camp Gladiator fitness class. When her students arrived at 5 a.m., they found her unresponsive. Officials later declared her dead -- after finding signs of a struggle and evidence of forced entry, police began investigating her death as a homicide.

A review of surveillance video recorded inside the church revealed the presence of another person inside the church an hour before Bevers' arrival. The person was described as wearing black, police-like clothing. Police originally thought the person was a man, but backed away from that assertion Tuesday afternoon.

The cameras inside the church did not record any interaction between the person and Bevers, police said.

On Wednesday, Assistant Chief of Police Kevin Johnson said their department is being assisted in the investigation by the Texas Rangers, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and an unnamed second federal agency.

The ATF, Texas Rangers and Midlothian police returned to the church Wednesday afternoon where the ATF used a dog to search the interior and exterior of the church for gunshot residue or other explosive powders.

Police are also requesting surveillance video from nearby businesses, including a nearby gun shop, with hopes of matching someone in that video to the person recorded inside the church.

The Dallas County medical examiner completed an autopsy on Bevers Tuesday, but police are not releasing her cause of death citing the ongoing investigation.

“There is strategic value right now in not releasing that [the medical examiner's report] to the public at this time. So we’re not, right now,” Johnson said.

Bevers' mobile phone was not password protected, so police have had no trouble accessing the device and reviewing texts, phone calls, emails and other data that may prove relevant to their investigation.

So far, police said Bevers' husband, Brandon, who spoke publicly with the media for more than 20 minutes Tuesday, has been cooperating with detectives in the investigation, though Johnson wouldn't reveal any particulars. Investigators said Brandon Bevers' story that he was on a fishing trip in Biloxi, Mississippi when his wife was killed checks out, police said.

Investigators said they have received hundreds of tips from the public and that maybe a dozen or so have turned out to have actionable information worthy of a follow up by one of the more than two dozen investigators assigned to the case.

Of the investigators, five are detectives with the Midlothian Police Department and the others come from the ATF, Texas Rangers and the unnamed federal agency.

More than 100 people gathered a Creekside Christian Church for a vigil in Bevers' memory Wednesday evening.

"We've all been deeply affected by this tragedy, and tonight was an opportunity for us to just lean on one another and just have that reminder that we are just here all together," said the Rev. Clint Rhodes, pastor at Creekside Christian Church.

Ellis County sheriff's deputies provided security for the prayer service, as many church members arrived to the facility for the first time since Bevers was killed there.

Boards still cover broken windows from the break-in before the assault.

"She was a lovely woman. And it was just tragic how all of a sudden her life was just gone," said Creekside member Derek Thorpe. "So (I'm) just here to mourn for her and her family ... and just hope that everybody can pray for her and the family."

NBC 5's Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.

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