A Kansas youth pastor faces multiple attempted murder charges after he stabbed his wife and five children and set a fire in their basement, local police said.
Matthew Lee Richards, 41, of Shawnee, Kansas, faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with possible bodily injury. The Shawnee Police Department (SPD) said in a press release. Johnson County jail records show he is being held on $5 million bail.
Three of the six victims remain in hospital after the attack, police said.
Weekly newspaper The Social Democrats were contacted for comment on Sunday via email and Facebook. As of the time of publication, it was unclear if Richards had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Police and firefighters in Shawnee, Missouri, about 10 miles southwest of Kansas City, responded to calls about a disturbance and house fire around 3:50 a.m. Saturday. Firefighters extinguished a fire in the basement of a Goode Avenue home, police said. Seven people, including Richards, were taken to the hospital with injuries, according to SPD.
The victims included his wife, adult children and four minor children, police said. When police found the six victims, they all suffered “varying degrees of lacerations,” police said. The 19-year-old man and his two minor children have been released from the hospital, SPD said, adding that Richards’ wife and two other children remain hospitalized. Authorities did not reveal a motive for the attack.
According to Richards’ bio on the Shawnee Crossing Christian Church website, he has served as the church’s youth pastor since 2016. He was described as “a big kid who loved teaching little kids about Jesus” and married his wife in 2003.
The website says he and his family have three rules: love God, love people and love sports.
Kurt Witten, senior pastor of Crossroads Christian Church, posted a statement about Richards’ arrest on the church’s Facebook page.
“We are aware of the situation with children’s pastor Matt Richards,” the statement read. “We are gathering additional information and will issue a full statement at a later date. Please respect this situation as the investigation is ongoing. Please contact We come together to pray for the Richards family during this time. Due to the sensitivity, please join us in praying for the Richards family.” Due to the nature of this situation, we will not be live-streaming Sunday’s worship service. “
Weekly newspaper Crossroads Christian Church was contacted for comment via email and Facebook.
Court records show Richards is scheduled to appear in court Monday at 1:30 p.m. SPD said the investigation is ongoing.