A fitness instructor was found slain inside a North Texas church Monday morning, and Midlothian police are looking for a person seen on video wearing tactical clothing with police markings in connection with her death.
Midlothian Assistant Police Chief Kevin Johnson said Tuesday that contrary to initial reports, the detectives can no longer say they are looking for a man.
"We are backing off our statement that the suspect on video was a man. I know we said 'he' over and over again yesterday, and that was a mistake. There's a lot of speculation based on the gait and appearance that this person may be a woman. It's a legitimate question right now. We no longer will say the suspect is a man," Johnson said. "That does not mean I'm saying this suspect is a woman. It's just that at this point we can’t rule it out. We don't know yet."
Fitness instructor Missy Bevers, a 45-year-old mother of three, arrived at the Creekside Church of Christ shortly after 4 a.m. to prepare for a Camp Gladiator class, police said Monday afternoon.
U.S. & World
When her students arrived at 5 a.m., they found her unresponsive and called 911. EMS workers arrived minutes later and noticed broken glass and other indications of a struggle around the woman's body.
Police arrived soon after, searched the building and determined there were visible signs of forced entry. No one else was found in the building but a review of surveillance video recorded inside the building indicated a person entered the building shortly before Bevers and was using a tool to pry open doors.
Midlothian police said the person was dressed in tactical gear with police markings, including a heavy helmet, gloves and military-style battle-dress pants.
In a news conference Monday afternoon, Midlothian Chief of Police Carl Smith said the person was "designed to look like a police officer."
Police said the motion-activated surveillance cameras did not record any interaction between Bevers and the person, and while a motive has not been determined, police said it's possible Bevers interrupted a burglary.
"It's just an odd, random situation that they would they would actually happen to come into a building that was being burglarized on a Monday morning," Smith said. "But all scenarios are on the table right now."
Investigators said the first time the person appeared on camera was about 3:50 a.m., shortly before Bevers arrived. Since there are no working cameras outside the church, it is not clear when the person arrived.
It was not immediately known if anything was taken from the church and police were not sure if the person was carrying a weapon.
The woman was declared dead at the scene by Ellis County Justice of the Peace Bill Woody. Due to Bevers' injuries, police are investigating her death as a homicide.
"She was a loving mother of three. She loved her husband very much," said Chad Tucker, Bevers' brother in-law. "She was dedicated to taking care of herself, taking care of other people and being a good mother."
Several people gathered Monday evening at the Midlothian Conference Center for a private candlelight vigil in Bevers' memory.
Oak Farms Dairy announced it was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and successful grand jury indictment in this case.
Bevers' body was transported to the Dallas County medical examiner who will determine her cause of death.
Anyone with information on the person's identity is asked to call the Midlothian Police Department at 972-775-3333.
NBC 5's Chris Jose and Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.