Florida pastor murdered by man he allowed to live at church

Police tape
Police tape | Tony Webster/WIkimedia Commons

The suspect accused of fatally stabbing a South Florida pastor multiple times was temporarily living at the church before an argument allegedly broke out that resulted in the murder of the local ministry leader. 

Antwane Lenoir was the 41-year-old pastor of the Westview Baptist Church in Miami, a role that he held for 15 years. 

As CBS News Miami reported Monday, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue discovered Lenoir’s body on Saturday with multiple stab wounds in his neck. On the day of the murder, the pastor had called a locksmith to change several of the church’s door locks, and an argument eventually ensued between Lenoir and the suspect, James Dawkins. 

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The 44-year-old suspect had been permitted to temporarily live at the church, according to CBS Miami. As the pair argued, the confrontation escalated after Dawkins allegedly stabbed Lenoir multiple times before fleeing the scene. 

Authorities found the suspect the next day and took him into custody, and Dawkins currently faces a first-degree murder charge. CBS News Miami reported that the police stated that Dawkins gave a "self-serving" statement during questioning that "was determined not to be consistent with the evidence obtained throughout the course of the investigation."

On Thursday, the murdered pastor’s wife of two decades, Bree, spoke with CBS News Miami's Tania Francois. The couple had four children together between the ages of 13 and 20, and the widow told the outlet that she never learned how to live her life without Lenoir. 

"He was a very good example of a selfless individual, a joy-filled person,” Bree said about her late husband. “He always smiled, even if things were looking kind of grim or dreary, you wouldn't know it by his countenance."

According to CBS News Miami, the suspect in Lenoir’s murder was in court Monday morning on murder charges. The pastor’s widow told the outlet that she wants people, including her children, to remember Lenoir for the life that he lived. 

"His life is not when it ended. It's not even about when it started. It's about what he did in between to make his life count,” she said. 

The widow expressed gratitude for the support she has received from the community, which she told the outlet has helped to keep her “strong.” Regarding her four children, Bree acknowledged that they have had “their moments” in the wake of their father’s death, and she expects things to be this way “indefinitely.” 

“But, they remember their dad as the guy that when he comes, he'll play games with them, he'll, you know, text in the house when he was funny about texting in the house,” the mother said. 

Earlier this year, The Christian Post reported on the Grace Point Church community mourning the death of Pastor Nick Davi after his murder at the hands of a neighbor in December. The suspect in the case, Joe Junio, was arrested at the scene of the crime. 

Junio reportedly shot Davi on Dec. 29, 2023, as the pastor’s family was in the process of temporarily leaving their home due to a dispute with the neighbor in question. Before the fatal shooting, the neighbor allegedly threw rocks at the Davis’ faces and on their property, and reports were made with the homeowners' association. 

During a December service, Pastor Ty Neal of Grace Point Church addressed Davi’s death ahead of a memorial service for the ministry leader. Neal told the congregation, “We lost a brother. We lost a pastor, and we lost a friend.” 

“It doesn’t feel real. It just feels like this is a bad dream in which we will wake up to and Nick will be there,” he added. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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