Police in Kansas arrested a youth pastor after he allegedly stabbed his wife, four sons and daughter before setting their home on fire.
Matthew Lee Richards is facing five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm, the Shawnee Police Department said in a press release.
Firefighters and police in Shawnee, a city about 10 miles southwest of Kansas City, Missouri, were called at 3:47 a.m. for a disturbance and house fire. Firefighters arrived and quickly extinguished a fire in the basement. Seven people, including Richards, were taken to the hospital.
The victims were his wife, 19-year-old adult child, and four minor children, police said. They were all suffering from “laceration injuries of varying degrees,” police said. The 19-year-old and two of the minor children have been treated and released from the hospital. His wife and two other children remain at the hospital, according to police. No motive was given.
Richards has been a youth pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee since 2016, his bio said. He’s described as a “big kid who loves teaching little kids about Jesus” and has been married to his wife since 2003.
“He and his family have three rules: 1. Love God 2. Love People 3. Love Sports (especially the Jayhawks and Sporting KC),” the bio said.
The church’s senior pastor, Kurt Witten, released a statement about the situation on Facebook.
“We are aware of the situation involving our Children’s Pastor, Matt Richards. We are gathering more information and will have a full statement at a later time. Please be respectful of this situation, as it is still an ongoing investigation. And please join us in praying for the Richards family during this time,” Witten wrote. “Due to the sensitive nature of this situation, we will not be livestreaming Sunday’s Services.”
The normally quiet neighborhood was bustling with fire crews followed by police crime scene investigators and detectives throughout Saturday.
“It’s sad, knowing that we’ve seen those kids out playing in their driveway, with their family. Dad’s walking the kids up and down the street with the dogs,” neighbor Jennifer Eggerman told ABC affiliate KMBC.
The Shawnee Mission Post reported that Richards is also a 7th grade English teacher at Christ Prep Academy. The staff bio said one of his children recently graduated while three currently attend the school. He previously taught at schools in Austria and Dallas, Texas. As of Sunday morning the bio had been taken down.
Richards is at the Johnson County Jail on a $5 million bond. He’s scheduled to be arraigned on Monday afternoon, records show.
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