ARLINGTON — As community members grieve over Thursday's church attack that left an Arlington pastor dead and his assistant beaten and left for dead, police are releasing new information on the case.
Police say NorthPointe Baptist Church Pastor Clint Dobson was suffocated with a plastic bag. Judy Elliott survived, but she remains hospitalized. Police have not been able to speak with her because her injuries are so severe.
The assaults happened Thursday afternoon. An affidavit shows that two women broke the case apart, coming forward with critical information hours later.
We now know why police waited to release photos of Steven Lawayne Nelson and Anthony Gregory Springs. Detectives were showing their pictures to merchants at The Parks at Arlington shopping mall.
According to arrest warrant affidavits, both men were buying jewelry and shoes Thursday with credit cards belonging to Judy Elliott.
Two women told police they had watched news accounts of the murder with Nelson and Springs on Thursday night. Their chilling account was documented in the affidavit:
"Both Nelson and Gregory began laughing and making inappropriate comments about Dobson's death."
"When confronted about his behavior, Gregory produced an item he claimed belonged to Dobson."
"We just don't understand how somebody could have perpetrated that offense," said Arlington police Deputy Chief Jaime Alaya. "That somebody could have so brutally beaten a lady and walked away from that."
Police arrested Springs for outstanding traffic tickets. They say he led them to Judy Elliott's stolen car. According to the affidavit:
"Nelson confessed to Gregory he had robbed the church in North Arlington. Nelson further admitted he had killed Dobson during the course of the capital murder through suffocation."
"This is truly a crime that was solved by public involvement," Deputy Chief Barry Hines said.
Anthony Springs told police that Steven Nelson picked him up in Elliott's stolen car after the murder, but records and surveillance video show both men splurging with stolen credit cards even as the nightmare at NorthPointe Baptist Church was playing out.
Springs' grandparents told News 8 he had a drug problem, but that he had never been in serious trouble. He is now.
Each new detail revealed causes that much more pain for Pastor Dobson's friends and church members. They left a police news conference on Monday visibly shaken.