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Children’s Pastor in Custody After Allegedly Attempting To Stab Wife and Children, Then Setting Fire to Home

Matthew Lee Richards
Screengrab via Johnson County Sheriff's Office

A Kansas man was arrested and charged on Saturday (Sept. 16) after he allegedly attempted to stab his wife and five children before setting his home on fire. Matthew Lee Richards, 41, had been a pastor on staff at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee. 

The Shawnee Police Department said in a statement that Richards faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm. Four of Richards’ children are minors, with his eldest child being 19 years old. 

Police said that firefighters responded to a call, which came from inside the home and reported a disturbance and a fire in the basement, at 3:47 a.m. When they arrived at Richards’ home, they waited for the police to tell them it was safe for them to enter, according to Shawnee Mission Post.

Upon entering the home, emergency personnel found that the “victims had sustained laceration injuries of varying degrees.” All seven people, including Richards, were transported to the hospital, and firefighters extinguished the fire. 

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The 19-year-old and two of the minors have since been released from the hospital. 

Richards is in police custody. Police have not disclosed a possible motive. 

Richards has been removed from Crossroads Christian Church’s staff page but was previously listed as the church’s children’s pastor. According to his profile on the website, he has been a part of the church since 2016. 

That same profile explained that Richards has “three rules” for his family: Love God, love people, and love sports. 

In a social media post, Crossroads senior pastor Kurt Witten said that the church is “aware of the situation involving our Children’s Pastor, Matt Richards.”

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“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,” Witten continued. “And please join us in prayer for the Richards family during this time.”