A children’s pastor and Christian school teacher in the Kansas City area has been charged with attempted murder and arson, after allegedly stabbing his wife and five children and setting their home on fire.
On Saturday, authorities in Shawnee, Kansas, charged Matthew Lee Richards, 41, with five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm, according to a statement posted online. Shawnee Police say Richards, children’s pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee, near Kansas City, is the only suspect in the case and is being held on $5 million bond.
The victims in the incident sustained laceration injuries of varying degrees, the statement added. Richards’ wife and two of his children remain at area hospitals receiving treatment. His 19-year-old child and two other minor children have been released from the hospital, according to the statement.
On Saturday morning, Shawnee police and fire departments responded to reports of a disturbance and house fire, police say. Firefighters found a fire in the basement of the Richards’ family home, which they quickly extinguished. Seven people, including the suspect, were transported to area hospitals for treatment.
Matt Richards has been children’s pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee since August 2016 and has been in full-time ministry for over 15 years, according to an online bio that was recently removed. Since 2020, Richards has been also on-staff at Christ Preparatory Academy in nearby Lenexa, teaching 7th Grade English.
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On Monday, a social post from Crossroads Christian Church stated that the “church family is shocked, sickened, and saddened by Saturday morning’s events involving our former children’s pastor.”
“This is a tragedy beyond what any of us could have imagined,” the statement continued, noting that the church is cooperating with authorities. “We are offering support and resources to the members of the Richards family who were victimized and their extended family. The road to recovery will be long—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Church leaders added that they are “grieving with our dear friends who are deeply hurting in so many ways” and will offer grief counseling in the coming days and weeks. The church did not livestream Sunday’s services “due to the sensitive nature of this situation,” noted an earlier statement.
According to his online bio, Richards earned a Masters of Arts in Children’s Ministry from Dallas Baptist University and multiple degrees from Dallas Christian College.
Richards’ arraignment is scheduled for Monday afternoon.
Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his family live in the Washington, D.C. area.