Youth pastor allegedly tried to kill wife, 5 children before setting home on fire: police

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A Kansas youth pastor is accused of trying to kill his wife and five children in their Shawnee home before allegedly attempting to set the home on fire, according to police.

Matthew Richards, 41, is charged with five counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm in connection with the Sept. 16 incident. 

His five children, including a 19-year-old and four juveniles, and his wife all sustained “laceration injuries of varying degrees,” according to a press release from the Shawnee Police Department.

Shawnee police and firefighters responded to reports of a disturbance and fire at the pastor’s home at 3:47 a.m. on Sept. 16.

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Matthew Richards mugshot

Matthew Richards, 41, is charged with five counts of premeditated first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm in connection with the Sept. 16 incident. (Johnson County Jail)

Firefighters located a blaze in the basement of the house on Goode Drive in Shawnee and “quickly extinguished” it. Authorities transported all five victims and Richards to the hospital for treatment.

Richards’ biography on the Crossroads Christian Church website states that he is a “a big kids [sic] who loves teaching little kids about Jesus.”

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“He has been married to Stephanie since 2003 and they have 4 boys and 1 girl. He and his family have three rules: 1. Love God, 2. Love People, 3. Love Sports (especially the Jayhawks and Sporting KC),” the biography states. “Matt and his family have been at Crossroads since August 2016 and look forward to many more years helping teach and reach those in the Shawnee area.”

Residence at 6600 block of Goode Drive in Shawnee

Firefighters located a blaze in the basement of the house and “quickly extinguished” it. Authorities transported all five victims and Matthew Richards to the hospital for treatment. (Google Maps)

Crossroads Church Senior Pastor Kurt Witten issued a statement in response to the incident on Sept. 16, saying the church was “aware of the situation involving” its “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. And please join us in praying for the Richards family during this time,” Witten wrote.

An investigation into the attempted killings is ongoing.

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Richards is being held on $5 million bond.

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