In front of horrified congregants, a pastor in Kenya stabbed his wife and then himself during the middle of her sermon on Sunday. Elijah Misiko, an assistant pastor at Ground for God’s Gospel Church in Mombasa, attacked Ann Mughoi, his wife of 26 years, with a knife he’d hidden in an envelope. He then used another knife to slit his own stomach and throat, dying on the scene. Mughoi, the church’s senior pastor, died later at a local hospital.
Eyewitnesses described the chaos, as well as the couple’s long-running fight over ownership and leadership of the church, located in the coastal city of Mombasa. Misiko left a lengthy suicide note that details the dispute, police say.
“We could not believe such a thing could happen”
Misiko entered the sanctuary while Mughoi’s sermon was underway, according to worshiper Janet Tole. Then he approached the pulpit, as if to whisper something in his wife’s ear, before stabbing her in the back and hand. Misiko appeared to be aiming for his wife’s heart and throat, church members tell police, but the preacher tried to deflect the knife with her hands. Worshipers’ efforts to assist Mughoi were unsuccessful.
“They have been wrangling over the ownership of the church,” Tole says. “Since they separated, the wife took over the affairs of the church, which angered her husband. We could not believe such a thing could happen.”
Misiko reportedly accused his wife of trying to put the church’s title in her name alone. “At some point, my wife started to betray me,” he writes. “She went behind my back and took control of all [that] we had gotten in 19 years without my prior knowledge.”
In the suicide note, titled “Betrayal and its consequences,” Misiko continues, “I bought a plot with my hard-earned money, and we decided to build a church so that Anna and I can serve God. But why have they locked me out of…worshiping and serving in the church?” He also accuses his wife of keeping their four children away from him and of having “love affairs with young men in the church.”
Reconciliation Attempts Had Failed
In 2017, police briefly detained Misiko when Mughoi alleged he was trying to kill her. Since then, the couple reportedly had been living apart.
“Misiko had confirmed their unending squabbles, which he based on both love and sharing of wealth that they had acquired over time,” says police commander Julius Kiragu. The couple, he adds, “had even reported the matter to church leaders, but they were unable to resolve the dispute.” After the investigation is complete, Kiragu says, authorities will “take necessary action” against any church officials.
Church treasurer Peter Kimbada confirms that “several attempts” at helping the couple reconcile had occurred. “Things never worked well,” he says, “and since last year Pastor Elijah stopped coming to church.”
According to one report, Mizigo also tried to kill his wife on December 31, but authorities intervened in time.