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Atlanta pastor stabbed with kitchen knife and set on fire, warrant says

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) — A metro Atlanta pastor has died after being stabbed by a man police say they were trying to help.

According to the DeKalb County Police Department, Christopher Griggs, 27, stabbed Marita Harrell, 57, at her residence on the 1300 block of Panola Road on Wednesday. He then took her body to the 1600 block of Coffee Road and left her there.

Griggs stabbed Harrell with a large kitchen and set her on fire, according to the warrants. DKCPD homicide detectives arrested Griggs on May 19 and charged him with murder and arson.

Reverend Harrell was Senior Pastor at Connections @ Metropolitan Church. She moved to Atlanta more than 30 years ago and was a member of Central United Methodist Church for more than 25 years before accepting God’s call on her life, according to the church’s website.

“On a spiritual level, you ask God why? What? Why she? She was doing your job,” said Vincente Scott, a close family friend.

Scott met Harrell in 1992. She was a Sunday school teacher at the time, but rose through the ranks of The United Methodist Church. He said faith was everything to Harrell and it was in his nature to want to help people.

“If you knew her, she was offering advice, encouragement,” he said. “The world has missed a great contributor to the process of civilization. If anything else, Marita aimed to improve individuals and improve society.

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church issued the following statement:

“I have been heartbroken since being informed of the passing of Reverend Marita Harrell. This is a huge blow to our clergy family, especially since it appears she died at the hands of whom she helped. Marita was a friend and a shining light among us. I pray for her family, her church and all who loved her. I am grateful that the Lord whom she represented so well was with her in all things and accompanied her to her eternal home. May her Spirit comfort those of us who remain.

DKCPD confirmed that Harrell was “framing” Griggs at the time of his death. He is currently being held in DeKalb County Jail without bond. His first court appearance is May 21.


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Sara Adm

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