What we know about Johnson County pastor accused of trying to kill family, burn home

A Johnson County father and husband accused of attempting to murder his family over the weekend is set to appear in court Monday afternoon.

Matthew Lee Richards, 41, was arrested Saturday after allegedly stabbing his wife and setting their Shawnee house on fire Saturday morning, according to police. He and his wife have five children.

He’s being held at the Johnson County Jail on five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm according to a post by the Shawnee, Kansas, Police Department.

Richards’ initial court appearance is slated for 2:30 p.m. Monday at the Johnson County Courthouse. His bond has been set at $5 million.

Children’s pastor in Shawnee

Richards is a children’s pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee, according to Kurt Witten, a senior pastor, who commented in a Facebook post Saturday regarding the incident. Witten could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

According to his bio on the church website, Richards and his family have been members of Crossroads since August 2016. The church website says he and his wife, Stephanie, are parents to four boys and a girl.

“He and his family have three rules: 1. Love God. 2. Love People. 3. Love Sports (especially the Jayhawks and Sporting KC),” the bio reads.

The church did remove Richards from their “our team” page, where he was listed as recently as August 2022, according to internet archives.

Teacher in Lenexa

Richards also reportedly works as a teacher in Lenexa.

However, when contacted Monday morning, Christ Preparatory Academy in Lenexa declined to comment on the situation or confirm that Richards worked for them. His profile appears to have been taken down from the school website.

However, a website archive database shows that as recently as March, Richards was listed as a seventh grade English teacher at the school, where he’d been since 2020 and where a few of his sons also attended school.

According to his staff profile, Richards has bachelor’s degrees in Science of the Bible and Science in Education from Dallas Christian College, and he has a master’s degree in Arts in Children’s Ministry from Dallas Baptist University.

“Matt is the Children’s Pastor at Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee. He has been in full-time ministry for nearly 15 years,” the profile reads. “Before going into ministry, Matt taught in an international school in Vienna, Austria and an inner-city school in Dallas, TX.”

Matt also loves sports of all kinds but his favorite is soccer.”

The fire

Officers from Shawnee Police and Fire Departments were called at 3:47 a.m. to the 6600 block of Goode Drive on reports of a disturbance and a house fire.

The home is located near Rhein Benninghoven Elementary and Shawnee Mission Northwest High School.

Firefighters found flames in the basement and quickly extinguished them.

Seven people were transported to area hospitals for treatment, including one suspect, police said at the time. All the victims had lacerations on their bodies.

The woman believed to be Richard’s wife and two of their children remained in an area hospital Saturday afternoon for treatment, police said. Three other juveniles, including one 19-year-old, were released from the hospital the same day.

The Star’s Matti Gellman contributed.

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