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Matthew Lee Richards

Area children’s pastor arrested for attempted murder of family

The children’s pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee, Kan., is being held on multiple attempted murder charges after he stabbed his wife and five children and started a fire in the basement of their home.

Matthew Lee Richards, 41,  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. 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 and firefighters in Shawnee 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. Seven people, including Richards, were transported to the hospital for injuries.

The victims were identified as his wife, adult child and four minor children. All six victims were suffering from “laceration injuries of varying degrees” when they were found by officers. The 19-year-old and two of the minor children have been released from the hospital, police 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 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. “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.

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.”

Richards is scheduled to appear in court on Monday at 1:30 p.m., court records show.

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