FORT DODGE, Iowa – The pastor of a Fort Dodge church is dead following an assault Wednesday and police have arrested a suspect in his murder.
Fort Dodge police say 64-year-old Allen Henderson, a pastor a St. Paul Lutheran Church, was found unresponsive outside of the church at 400 South 13th Street around 5:45 p.m. Medics began treatment on the scene with life-saving measures immediately and Henderson was transferred to Unity Point Trinity Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Police say Henderson had injuries consistent with an assault and believed his death was suspicious.
After gathering evidence at the scene and information from witnesses investigators determined a confrontation involving Henderson had happened in the church or just outside.
They were able to identify 36-year-old Joshua Pendleton as a suspect in the incident and he was located in the area of the 1400 block of 4th Ave. South and taken into custody for questioning.
Evidence led to charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery being filed in the case. Pendleton is being held in the Webster County Jail on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
Police have not commented on a possible motive in the case.
Pastor Henderson had served as a chaplain for the Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Dodge Fire Department, and the local Iowa State Patrol district.
Captain Ryan Gruenberg with the Fort Dodge Police Department spoke about Henderson’s role as chaplain and the difficulties officers will face going forward, “He offered us support, both emotionally and spiritually — if we so desired. He was always there for us if anything happened. You know, a lot of us in this profession unfortunately see a lot of tragic incidents which can affect us and he was always there for us to offer his support and kind words to help us through any sort of incident. He was always there to lighten the mood and bring a smile to all our faces.”
He said, “Certainly will not be an easy one to overcome. We’re fortunate in the fact that we were able to locate a suspect fairly quickly and take him into custody and get that portion of this incident resolved so we can start moving forward from there. But, it’s certainly going to be difficult for all of us.”