Suspect in New Jersey pastor’s slaying to remain held Virginia until hearing
Jun 2, 2023, 11:05 AM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A church associate charged with gunning down a New Jersey pastor will remain in custody in Virginia until a June 29 extradition hearing after a hearing Friday was postponed, court records show.
Rashid Ali Bynum, 29, of Portsmouth, Virginia, had previously lived in Sayreville, where victim Eunice Dwumfour lived with her 11-year-old daughter and served on the City Council.
Dwumfour, 30, had gotten married just months before she was gunned down outside her rented townhome on Feb. 1 as she returned from the grocery store. She married a fellow pastor from her Nigerian church, Champions Royal Assembly, at its Abuja headquarters in November, but her husband had not yet joined her in the U.S.
Bynum was listed in Dwumfour’s phone under the acronym “FCF,” or Fire Congress Fellowship, a related church entity. She was deeply involved with the prosperity gospel group, helping lead services several times a week in Newark and serving as a church treasurer.
However, the extent of Bynum’s involvement with the church remained unclear Friday. He has a long record of arrests in Virginia on charges that include gun possession, credit card fraud and a string of driving violations.
A public defender named to represent him in the extradition case did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Friday.
While the arrest raised more questions than answers for Dwumfour’s family in Newark — their lawyer said they do not know the suspect — some in Sayreville expressed relief.
“There was an air of unease, having not had any idea of the circumstances of the crime and the perpetrator,” said Karen Bailey Bebert, a local Republican leader who helped Dwumfour and church colleague Christian Onuoha run for council in 2021. Both won, and Onuoha is now council president.
“We’re overwhelmed with emotion and elated,” she said. “It went on a long time, but they (investigators) had to do their job.”
In announcing the arrest Wednesday, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone released few details about the case, but said police had used cellphone and vehicle transponder data to recreate Bynum’s travels on Feb. 1 and tie him to the crime.
He also matched the description of the gunman given by neighbors in Sayreville, she said.
Dwumfour’s husband, Peter Ezechukwu, posted a photo of the couple in matching pink blazers on social media on Friday.
___ Follow Legal Affairs Writer Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale