A young Kansas pastor faces multiple attempted murder charges after stabbing his wife and five children and starting a fire in the basement of their home, according to local police.
Matthew Lee Richards, 41, of Shawnee, Kansas, faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm, the The Shawnee Police Department (SPD) said in a press release. He is being held on $5 million bail, according to Johnson County Jail records.
Three of the six victims remain hospitalized after the attack, police said.
News week contacted the SPD by email and Facebook on Sunday for comment. At the time of Richards’ publication, it was unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Police and firefighters in Shawnee, a town about 10 miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo., responded to a call about a disturbance and a house fire shortly before 3:50 a.m. Saturday. Firefighters extinguished a fire in the basement of the home on Goode Drive, police said. Seven people, including Richards, were taken to the hospital with injuries, according to SPD.
The victims were identified as his wife, adult child and four minor children, police said. The six victims were suffering from “varying degrees of lacerations” when they were found by officers, police said. The 19-year-old and two of the minor children have been released from the hospital, SPD said, adding that Richards’ wife and two other children remain hospitalized. No motive for the attack has been shared by authorities.
Richards has served as youth pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee since 2016, according to his biography on the church’s website. He is described as a “big kid who loves teaching little kids about Jesus” and has been married to his wife since 2003.
The website says he and his family have three rules: love God, love people and love sports.
Crossroads Christian Church Senior Pastor Kurt Witten released a statement regarding Richards’ arrest on the church’s Facebook page.
“We are aware of the situation involving our children’s pastor, Matt Richards,” the statement said. “We are gathering more information and will have a full statement later. Please be respectful of this situation as the investigation is still ongoing. And please join us in praying for the Richards family during This time. Due to the sensitivity Due to the nature of this situation, we will not be streaming Sunday services live.”
News week has contacted Crossroads Christian Church via email and Facebook for comment.
Richards is scheduled to appear in court Monday at 1:30 p.m., according to court records. SPD said the investigation is ongoing.