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Children’s Pastor Charged With Attempted Murder of Family Told Police He Was Motivated by Financial Struggles

Matthew Lee Richards
Screengrab via KMBC

On Saturday, Sept. 16, Kansas children’s pastor Matthew Lee Richards was taken into custody after allegedly attempting to stab his wife and five children before setting fire to his home. According to court documents, Richards revealed to investigators that he was motivated by his desire to cover up the family’s dire financial situation. 

Richards has been charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder with premeditation and one count of aggravated arson with the risk of bodily harm. 

Richards, who had been serving as the children’s pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee, Kansas, allegedly began stabbing his family around 3:45 a.m. as they slept.

In an online statement, Crossroads Christian Church characterized Richards’ alleged offenses as “a tragedy beyond what any of us could have imagined.”

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“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,” the statement said.

On the night of the crime, police received a 911 call about a house fire. A child also called 911 saying that their father was chasing them with a knife, and another caller told police she had been stabbed, according to KMBC.

When police and other emergency personnel arrived on the scene, they discovered three victims with stab wounds waiting outside for help, and smoke could be seen coming from inside the house. 

Firefighters soon extinguished the fire. Richards’ wife and two of his children were rushed to the hospital with critical injuries. His adult child and two other children were treated for minor injuries. 

Richards himself was treated for smoke inhalation. All the victims are expected to recover. 

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According to an affidavit obtained by The Kansas City Star, Richards not only confessed to the crime but also provided investigators with his motive.