WAGRAM — A Scotland County resident who was once the pastor of a church in Robeson County has been charged with with first-degree murder in the death of his infant daughter, who lived in Lumberton.
Lawrence McNeill Dowdy, 52, who lives at 26620 McNeill Lake Road, Wagram, was charged after medical personnel were summoned to his home on Monday and found 7-month-old Peyton Dowdy dead as a result of head injuries.
The charges of first-degree murder and felony child abuse were brought on Tuesday, according to Capt. Jon Edwards of the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office
Edwards said “family members” had made the emergency call. The child lived with her mother in Lumberton at 110 Lovette Road and was visiting her father.
“There were older signs of abuse on the child also,” Edwards said.
Dowdy, who once served as a minister at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Proctorville in Robeson County, in 2011 spoke during Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and St. Andrews University.
According to online press releases from the state Governor’s Office, Dowdy in 2010 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 being held without bond at the Scotland County Detention Center.
Mary Katherine Murphy works for Civitas Media as a staff writer for The Laurinburg Exchange.