Woman Beaten to death with CROSS Inside Church

Cross Used To Beat Elderly Woman To Death In Church

6:06 PM CDT, June 7, 2010


  • Elderly Woman Found Dead Inside Church
  • Pastor Finds Body
  • Church Members Say She Was Beaten

(Hamlin, AR 06/07/2010) (Hamlin, AR 6/7/10) The search for the people who killed an 80-year-old woman found beaten under a church pew has gone nationwide.

Cross County Sheriff J.R. Smith said possibly two “people of interest” fled the area after the church pastor discovered Lillian Wilson’s lifeless body Sunday.

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Sheriff Smith said investigators know who they’re looking for and where they are from, but would not confirm details of the ongoing investigation.

The Central United Methodist Church sits along Highway 64 in the small community of Hamlin, west of Wynne, Arkansas.

It’s where Wilson grew up and where she held her 50th wedding anniversary.

The church group meets at two alternating locations and Pastor Dixon Platt said he worried something was wrong when Wilson didn’t show up for service at their other meeting location.

He found Wilson beaten under a pew around noon.

Other friends said the killer possibly used a cross from the altar to beat the elderly woman to death.

“To have her life end in a place that she loved so much,” said longtime friend and neighbor Linda Peeler, “It’s just unbelievable.”

Friends and Wilson’s two sons were busy at the active 80-year-old’s rural home Monday.

Wilson was heavily involved in the community.

An animal lover, she volunteered at the area animal shelter and fostered cats in her home.

She also worked with veterans, was involved in the library system, and was a registered nurse who had retired after working many years in Memphis.

“We’re just in shock, devastated and angry,” said Peeler. “We’re angry that someone would do that to someone that helped so many people. And to do it in a church, that’s the hardest.”

A side door to the small church now has been boarded over with plywood.

Friends say it’s possible someone broke into the church and Wilson surprised whoever was inside.

Peeler said her friend was incredibly caring and she suspects Wilson even offered to help the people who killed her.

“Probably the first thing she said when she walked in the church was, ‘Can I help you?'” said Peeler. “She was 80-years-old. She wasn’t a threat to anybody. They didn’t have to hurt her.”

Authorities have not released a motive but have been unable to find the victim’s purse.

They believe the suspect(s) stole Wilson’s grey 2003 Mercury Grand Marquis.



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