Community shocked at woman’s death inside church

| June 7, 2010

WYNNE, AR (WMC-TV) – Residents of Cross County, Arkansas reacted with shock Monday after an 80-year-old woman was found beaten to death in a church sanctuary Sunday.

Lillian Wilson was beaten to death inside the church, which was wrapped in crime scene tape Sunday night.

Don Ashley, who spent Monday working on renovations at a nearby grocery store, was flabbergasted by Wilson's death.

"I don't know why anybody'd want to do anything to her," he said.

Central United Methodist Church has a congregation of nine, and on many Sundays, it combines with another church down the road. Sunday morning, Wilson was on her way to that other church when she stopped at Central Methodist.

Inside, investigators said, she was attacked and killed. The killer then stole her car and took off. Later, the church's pastor found Wilson's body hidden under a pew.

"I couldn't believe it," said Wilson's friend, Merlene Hess. "I just couldn't believe it."

Wilson's hometown, nearby Wynne, shocked by the loss. Wilson at lunch often at Kelley's, a restaurant there, and volunteered at Cross Ridge Hospital once a week. Typically, she would work at the reception desk, welcoming incoming patients and visitors.

"When she's around you know it," said Gary Sparks, a worker at the hospital. "She had a very infectious laugh. Always in a good mood. I don't think I've ever seen her when she wasn't smiling."

Investigators are looking for Wilson's car. It is a gray Mercury Marquis with Arkansas license plate 737-NGN. The front license plate has a tag that says "Eat Rice."

One suspect is reportedly Thomas Tweedle, a man in his early 40's.

If you know anything that could help investigators, call the Cross County Sheriff's Department at (870) 238-5700.

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Category: Church Security

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