Teen arrested in Kennedale slaying

A Burleson teen was arrested early Thursday in connection with the killing of a teen in Kennedale whose body was found in a church parking lot, Kennedale police said Thursday.

Jail records identified the suspect as Cody Wayne Basinger, 18.

Kennedale police Capt. Darrell Hull said the suspect was taken into custody in Burleson.

Basinger’s name came up as Kennedale police interviewed residents with information about the slaying. No details were released by Kennedale police.

Authorities learned that Basinger was in Burleson and arrested him during a traffic stop there. Kennedale police were assisted in the arrest by Burleson police and SWAT team members from the Mansfield Police Department, authorities said. Basinger was taken to the Kennedale police station early Thursday for questioning, and later booked into the Mansfield Jail.

The victim was found dead in the Kennedale church parking lot Wednesday morning, the first homicide in the city since 2009 when three members of a family were found dead in a burning house across the street from the church.

Kennedale police identified the victim as Dakota Birdwell, 18, of Burleson.

A passing motorist called 911 at 7:05 a.m. Wednesday to report seeing the body at Life Fellowship Church, 611 N. Little School Road, Kennedale police said. When officers arrived, they found the man shot in the head, Hull said. No weapons were found and there was no unaccounted-for vehicle in the parking lot, he said.

“The pastor of the church arrived, and he didn’t believe the man was a member of the church,” Hull said.

Basinger was in the Mansfield Jail Thursday morning with bail set at $50,000.

The last homicide in Kennedale was in 2009, a high profile case in which John Hummel fatally beat and stabbed his pregnant wife before killing his disabled father-in-law and 5-year-old daughter. Hummel then set their house at 600 Little School Road ablaze. Hummel, now 39, has been on Texas’ Death Row since 2011.

Staff writer Monica S. Nagy contributed to this report.