Youth pastor charged with attempting to murder five children

SHAWNEE, KS – A local youth pastor, Matthew Richards, 41, is facing serious charges after allegedly attempting to murder his wife and five children and then setting their home ablaze. The incident occurred in their Shawnee residence on September 16, according to police reports.

Richards has been charged with five counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm. The victims, including his wife and five children, one of whom is 19 and the rest are minors, suffered lacerations of varying degrees, as per the Shawnee Police Department’s press release.

The morning of the incident, at 3:47 a.m., Shawnee police and firefighters were dispatched to the Richards’ residence following reports of a disturbance and fire. Upon arrival, they discovered a fire in the basement of the house on Goode Drive, which they promptly extinguished. All six family members, including Richards, were transported to the hospital for treatment.

Richards, who is listed on the Crossroads Christian Church website as a pastor who “loves teaching little kids about Jesus,” has been married to his wife Stephanie since 2003. The couple, parents to four boys and one girl, have been part of the Crossroads community since August 2016.

In response to the incident, Crossroads Church Senior Pastor Kurt Witten issued a statement on September 16, acknowledging the situation involving their Children’s Pastor, Matt Richards. He urged respect for the ongoing investigation and requested prayers for the Richards family. The investigation into the attempted murders is still underway. Richards is currently being held on a $5 million bond.