September 29, 2023

A Kansas youth pastor is facing multiple attempted murder charges after he stabbed his wife and five children and started a fire in the basement of their home, according to local police.

Matthew Lee Richards, 41, of Shawnee, Kansas, is facing five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm, the Shawnee Police Department (SPD) said in a press release. He is being held on a $5 million bond, Johnson County Jail records show.

Three of the six victims remain hospitalized after the attack, police said.

Kansas Pastor Stabs Wife, Kids
Matthew Richards, a 41-year-old youth pastor, stabbed his wife and five children before setting the basement of their home on fire, according to police in Shawnee, Kansas.
Johnson County Sheriff’s Office

Newsweek reached out via email and Facebook on Sunday to the SPD for comment. It was unclear at the time of publication of Richards had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Police and firefighters in Shawnee, a city roughly 10 miles southwest of Kansas City, Missouri, responded to a call about a disturbance and house fire shortly before 3:50 a.m. on Saturday. Firefighters extinguished a blaze in the basement of the house on Goode Drive, police said. Seven people, including Richards, were transported to the hospital for injuries, according to SPD.

The victims were identified as his wife, adult child and four minor children, police said. All six victims were suffering from “laceration injuries of varying degrees” when they were found by officers, police said. The 19-year-old and two of the minor children have been released from the hospital, SPD said, adding that Richards’ wife and two other children remain hospitalized. No motive for the attack was shared by authorities.

Richards has been a youth pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee since 2016, according to his bio on the church’s website. He’s described as a “big kid who loves teaching little kids about Jesus” and has been married to his wife since 2003.

The website states that he and his family have three rules: Love God, love people and love sports.

Crossroads Christian Church senior pastor Kurt Witten released a statement about Richards’ arrest on the church’s Facebook page.

“We are aware of the situation involving our Children’s Pastor, Matt Richards,” the statement reads. “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. Due to the sensitive nature of this situation, we will not be livestreaming Sunday’s Services.”

Newsweek reached out via email and Facebook to Crossroads Christian Church for comment.

Richards is scheduled to appear in court on Monday at 1:30 p.m., court records show. SPD said the investigation is ongoing.

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