By all accounts, Missy Bevers was a compassionate wife, a doting mother of three, and a highly motivated fitness coach and entrepreneur. It was a life the Texas woman often shared publicly on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
Her tendency to live life online is one reason homicide investigators are combing Bevers’ social media accounts for clues to who and why someone would kill the 45-year-old personal trainer inside a suburban Dallas church.
Her body was discovered about 5 a.m. on Monday by students arriving to attend Bevers’ boot camp — a fitness class she regularly promoted on her social channels.
Surveillance video from inside the Creekside Church of Christ shows a person investigators suspect of killing Bevers walking the halls at around 4 a.m., the time the popular fitness coach usually arrived.
Police in Midlothian, Texas — a small town 25 miles southwest of Dallas — said the suspect, who was carrying a tool used to break windows, was dressed in tactical gear, including a heavy vest that read “POLICE” on the front and back.
“The department’s desire is for the public to analyze the video to see if the walk and stature or the suspect is recognizable,” Assistant Chief Kevin Johnson said in releasing the video on Tuesday.
Midlothian police have declined to say how Bevers was slain, but a search warrant obtained on Thursday by KXAS-TV reveals investigators believe she was struck in the head with an unknown object. The warrant was obtained to search Bevers’ pickup truck where detectives found her purse, iPad and other valuables still inside.
“At this point, there are unanswered questions, and we will investigate every possible aspect of this case,” Johnson said.
Police said it’s feasible Bevers could have interrupted a burglary in process, but that nothing from the church appears missing. Investigators, who are being assisted by the FBI and other agencies, are scouring the surrounding area for additional surveillance and looking into texts, calls and other data from Bevers’ phone, which was not password-protected, KXAS-TV reported.
The victim’s husband of 20 years, Brandon Bevers, was on a fishing trip in Mississippi when his wife was killed.
Bevers, who police have said is cooperating with investigators, often worried about his wife’s teaching classes before sunrise, his mother told KTVT-TV.
“The morning before we knew anything had happened, he said, ‘I’ve told her — I’ve told her she’s got to be careful.’ He was just so afraid something would happen,” Marsha Tucker said. “She might have been a little too naive for her own good, but she was a trusting soul. I guess she just thought everyone was good.”
Police are also trying to determine if Bevers could have been targeted. In her last Facebook update, published Sunday about nine hours before her body was discovered, Bevers posted that she would be at the church early Monday for her fitness class.
“We are excited to see all your smiling faces in the morning!” Bevers wrote, encouraging her students to be there rain or shine.
The native Texan had hundreds of Facebook friends but left her posts on the popular social network open to the public — including more than 1,400 photos and videos.
While police have made no connection between Bevers’ death and her prolific and unprotected online presence, cybersecurity expert and author Joseph Steinberg said users should double-check their privacy settings and heed security best practices.
“This terrible tragedy is a reminder that when you’re sharing information online, that information can be shared with people who have bad intentions,” said Steinberg, CEO of SecureMySocial, a tech company that warns businesses and individuals in real time if their social posts are inappropriate or if they increase their vulnerability.
Bevers, who grew up in a small Texas town, had Twitter and Instagram accounts as well. Like most people, she used social media to express her love for her family, hobbies and life in general. But she also used the platforms to promote entrepreneurial interests.
Before becoming a fitness trainer, the mother of girls ages 15, 13 and 8 was an independent consultant for a network marketing distributor of discount designer jeans. Bevers publicly listed her home address on a separate Facebook account she used to advertise the clothing.
“Basically social media is becoming the Wild West, with people sharing all sorts of things that in a previous generation nobody would have ever shared,” Steinberg said.
More recently, Bevers had leveraged her social presence to push her involvement with both a network marketer of nutritional supplements and Camp Gladiator, an Austin-based company that uses independent fitness trainers to host boot camps in Texas, Colorado, Florida and North Carolina.
Last August, Bevers published her mobile phone number in a tweet advertising her group fitness classes in Midlothian.
“There are many people who share information and don’t realize the potential consequences of what they are sharing,” Steinberg said.
Like a growing number of businesses, Camp Gladiator augments its advertising through social media, encouraging instructors and clients to share their experiences. A Camp Gladiator vice president declined to comment on whether the company offers its coaches social media security training. He told Yahoo News the company wasn’t answering questions out of respect for Bevers' grieving family.
Steinberg acknowledges social media can be a tough balance for entrepreneurial-minded people.
“It’s not easy for everybody to always recognize what the problem is,” he said. “Human mistakes are really the weak point in the information security chain, the social media security chain and the physical security chain.”
On Facebook, Camp Gladiator wrote, “The Camp Gladiator community is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our trainers, Missy Bevers. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.”
A top comment to that post came from a woman expressing concern for other fitness instructors.
“I’m definitely praying for her family, campers, and community,” the commenter wrote. “I also worry about the safety of all other trainers. They become our close friends. This story brings attention to the fact that trainers arrive early and alone. So even if this guy doesn’t try something, others could. I’m praying for safety and protection. And I’ll do a better job getting to camp early.”
Other posts on Bevers’ social media revealed details like photos of the car she shopped for two years ago and locations of restaurants and gyms she frequented.
“Sometimes it’s not the one post that creates the danger, it’s the combination,” Steinberg said. “It’s the 1-plus-1-plus-1-equals-500 problem.”
(This story has been updated since it originally published.)