In Shawnee, Kansas on September 16, a youth pastor was taken into custody after allegations arose of him stabbing his wife and five children, then setting their home on fire.
Matthew Lee Richards is charged with five counts of attempted murder and an additional charge of aggravated arson which potentially could have caused physical harm, as stated by the Shawnee Police Department.
The incident drew the attention of Shawnee’s emergency services at around 3:47 am. The primary concern was addressing a fire which was ignited in the lower part of the house. Following the incident, a total of seven people, among them Richards, were sent to a hospital for treatment.
Upon further investigation, the police found that the list of injured parties included Richards’ spouse, a 19-year-old, and four young children. All of them, except Richards, displayed signs of stab wounds.
After receiving medical care, three members of the family, the eldest child and two of the minors, were deemed fit to be sent home. The rest continue to receive medical attention.
For the past several years, since 2016, Richards, 41, has served as a youth pastor at the Crossroads Christian Church situated in Shawnee. Publicly available information about him illustrates his marriage since 2003. His family, as per shared information, strongly believes in cherishing God, humanity, and athletic activities.
The congregation’s senior pastor, Kurt Witten, posted a public statement on Facebook. He conveyed the church’s knowledge about Richards’ current situation, pleaded for patience due to the investigational phase, and appealed for prayers in favor of the Richards family. In a related development, the church chose to suspend its digital Sunday services for the time being.
The community’s reaction has been one of disbelief. Many remember their fond engagements with the Richards. Furthermore, Richards’ professional side showcases his commitment as a 7th-grade teacher at Christ Prep Academy and previous teaching stints in locales such as Austria and Dallas.
Presently, Richards is confined at the Johnson County Jail, with bail set at a staggering $5 million. An arraignment occurred on September 18. Police have yet to disclose any potential motive behind these actions.