Reverend charged with killing infant daughter

Mary Katherine Murphy

April 29, 2014

LAURINBURG — A Wagram resident and former minister was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday in the death of his 7-month old daughter, according to Capt. Jon Edwards of the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday morning, Scotland County EMS was called to 26620 McNeill Lake Road, the home of 52-year-old Lawrence McNeill Dowdy. When medical personnel arrived, they found 7-month-old Peyton Dowdy dead as a result of severe head injuries.

Dowdy was charged on Tuesday night with first degree murder and felony child abuse.

Edwards said “family members” had made the emergency call. The child lived with her mother in Lumberton, Edwards said, and was visiting Dowdy.

“There were older signs of abuse on the child also,” Edwards said, noting significant bruising on the infant’s torso.

Dowdy, who has served as a minister at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Proctorville, a small town in Robeson County, in 2011 spoke in Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and St. Andrews University. He has also led congregations in Milwaukee, Wis., Atlanta, Ga., and Louisville, Ky.

In 2010, Dowdy was appointed by then-Gov. Beverly Purdue to serve as the state’s faith-based outreach coordinator. A native of Pinehurst, he attended North Carolina A&T State University and attained a doctorate in ministry from Dayton University in Ohio.

Earlier this year, Dowdy was a speaker at the “Day of Learning” in Scotland County, which featured presentations by several community leaders.

Dowdy is currently being held without bond at the Scotland County Detention Center.

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 17. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.