Police made an arrest this week months after a Republican councilwoman was gunned down outside her New Jersey home, with the break in the case leaving officials and loved ones with even more questions.
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As CBN’s Faithwire previously reported, the Feb. 1 murder of Sayreville Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour, 30, sent shockwaves through the Sayreville community, with friends and peers remembering Dwumfour as a dedicated public servant and woman of God.
Now, months after the horrific killing, authorities have a suspect in custody.
Rashid Ali Bynum, 28, was detained in Chesapeake, Virginia, and charged with first-degree murder, second-degree possession of a handgun for unlawful purpose, and second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, NBC News reported.
During a Tuesday press conference, officials said Dwumfour and Bynum likely knew one another, as Bynum’s contact showed up in the victim’s phone.
One of the other elements of the case — Dwumfour’s Christian faith and church connections — could come into play as the investigation forges on.
“A search of the victim’s phones revealed Bynum as a contact in Eunice Dwumfour’s phone with the acronym FCF,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone said. “FCF is believed to be an acronym for the Fire Congress Fellowship, a church the victim was previously affiliated with.”
The house of worship is also connected to Champion Royal Assembly Church in Newark, where Dwumfour was reportedly involved before her death.
“That is something that is vexing the family as we speak right now,” John Wisniewski, an attorney for the victim’s loved ones, told WABC-TV.
The connection between the Dwumfour and Bynum is still being explored, though WABC-TV reported the councilwoman spent time in Virginia doing missionary work as a pastor.
Sayreville Councilman Christian Onuoha, who served with Dwumfour, said Dwunfour had spent time counseling Bynum, who reportedly had various legal and psychological struggles.
That counseling purportedly ended, though, in 2018, and it’s unclear if the two remained in touch.
“Stopping by, went for Bible studies pretty consistently as well. Always presented himself as very calm, quiet, reserved,” Onuoha said of the suspect. “I just remember him being in services and always saying that he was blessed with what he was listening to, what he was learning and that he wanted to apply it into his personal life.”
This potential mentoring relationship will undoubtedly be at the center of the case.
A motive wasn’t given during Tuesday’s press conference, though one family member alleged Bynum suffered from psychological issues. And according to My Central Jersey, the suspect has a “lengthy criminal record,” including issues with weapons and credit card fraud.
As CBN’s Faithwire previously noted, the community was stunned by Dwumfour’s death, with some expressing frustration over a lack of suspects before this week’s arrest.
Friends and peers have remembered Dwumfour as a dedicated public servant and woman of God.
A Facebook account belonging to Detective Juan Rodriguez and Pastor Doctor Nelia Rodriguez announced Dwumfour’s death in February and called the late councilwoman a “personal friend.”
The Rodriguezes described the victim as a “woman of God” who was “full of life.”
“She was an amazing friend, a woman who loved God,” the Rodriguezes wrote Wednesday night. “We were just at our HRC meeting Jan. 5 2023, and I just saw her this morning at the store.”
Dwumfour was a mother to an 11-year-old as well as a newlywed; she reportedly recently married a pastor named Peter Ezechukwu in Nigeria before her killing.
Ezechukwu told the Associated Press in April he had hoped to join his wife in the U.S. this spring, but is now mourning her loss.
“Nigerians want to know: ’What really happened?'” he told the outlet. “We believe in America — authority, the police and everybody. … We need justice for her.”
Authorities found Dwumfour inside her vehicle Feb. 1 after 7 p.m. with multiple gunshot wounds, Fox News reported at the time.
Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick, a Democrat, praised Dwumfour for her passion and “deep faith,” building upon what others said about the victim’s devotion to the Lord.
“Beyond her dedication to our community, I can share that she was a woman of deep faith and worked hard to integrate her strong Christian beliefs into her daily life as a person and a community leader,” Kilpatrick said. “On a personal note, I can’t adequately express my feeling of sorrow at the loss of a friend.”
Dwumfour’s 20-year-old sister, Priscilla, said her sibling’s devotion to her Christian faith was strong.
Priscilla also told USA Today Network New Jersey her sister attended church at Champions Royal Assembly in Newark, New Jersey, and was “always happy.”
New Jersey Republican State Committee Bob Hugin put out a statement mirroring similar sentiments and driving home Dwumfour’s faithfulness.
“We will remember Eunice for her steadfast dedication to the community, as well as her deep and abiding Christian faith,” Hugin wrote. “We have the utmost confidence that law enforcement will bring the perpetrators of this heartbreaking tragedy to justice.”
He continued, “God Bless Councilwoman Dwumfour and her family.”
Please continue to pray for her family, friends, and community as the investigation forges on.