A church member, Rashid Ali Bynum, 28, has been arrested by investigators in the USA.
Bynum, of Portsmouth who was alleged to have gunned down a Sayreville Councilwoman and Nigerian pastor, Eunice Dwumfour, 30, in her SUV outside her home in February in New Jersey, was arrested over the act.
New Jersey prosecutors said investigators traced his travels from his cellphone and vehicle location data on Feb. 1, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone said at a news conference.
The suspect also matched the description of the gunman given by neighbours in Sayreville, where Dwumfour had served on the council for about a year.
She was found slain down in her white SUV outside her leased townhome about four months ago, while her 11-year-old daughter heard the gunshot from inside. Her demise on February 1 stunned the community.
Dwumfour was a pastor at the Champions Royal Assembly prosperity gospel church in Nigeria, where she married a fellow pastor from Abuja in November. She was also a member of the Fire Congress Fellowship, which has a section in Virginia. Bynum was included in her mobile contacts under the moniker for the group.
According to court records and tax filings, church finances in the United States were limited. Dwumfour was mentioned in a series of landlord-tenant conflicts in Newark concerning the fellowship, which saw its income plummet from almost $250,000 in 2017 to only $350 in 2020.
Dwumfour, who grew up in Newark, had resided in Virginia at one point, while Bynum, according to family lawyer John Wisniewski, had lived in Sayreville. Beyond that, he had no idea what their relationship was like, and the prosecution refused to disclose a probable motive.
Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick — a political ally who decided not to run for reelection as the slaying went unsolved — took some comfort that the killing did not appear politically motivated, but was troubled by the apparent link to a church to which Dwumfour was deeply devoted.
“The fact that it was connected to that component of her life is even more saddening to me because you look to God for light and protection. So to know that that was the connection hurts, but at the same time, evil can lurk anywhere,” she said.
Dwumfour's father and family pastor learnt of his son's detention shortly before the news conference and declined to speak. While they are pleased with the arrest, they have "even more questions today than there were before," according to Wisniewski. Peter Ezechukwu, her new husband, is no longer in the United States.
“We have an alleged murderer in custody in Virginia, but now they are trying to also understand the relationship, how this person came to target Eunice, what was the rationale,” Wisniewski said.
According to authorities, Bynum was apprehended without incident in Chesapeake City, Virginia. It was unclear whether he had a lawyer or when he might be extradited to New Jersey.
Dwumfour, a Republican, won her first three-year term in 2021, unseating a Democratic incumbent. Colleagues remembered her as a soft-spoken devoted Christian who could keep her cool in heated times.