Youth pastor says he stabbed wife and children to avoid eviction

Youth pastor Matthew Lee Richards has been charged with with five counts of attempted murder after allegedly stabbing his family and setting their house on fire (Johnson County Sheriff’s Office)
Youth pastor Matthew Lee Richards has been charged with with five counts of attempted murder after allegedly stabbing his family and setting their house on fire (Johnson County Sheriff’s Office)

A Kansas youth pastor charged with stabbing his wife and five children after setting their home on fire told police he carried out the frenzied attack because his family was about to be evicted, court documents show.

Matthew Lee Richards, 41, called himself a “monster” as he described how he allegedly set fire to the basement of the family home in Shawnee early on 16 September before going room to room slashing his family members, according to a newly-unsealed affidavit obtained by the Kansas City Star.

Mr Richards said in a police interview last week that his family had been due to be evicted on the day of the alleged attack, and he “thought that it would be better if they all died rather than for his kids to have to deal with the trauma”, the documents state.

His wife and two of his children suffered serious stab wounds, while a 19-year-old son and two minor children were treated in hospital and released the same day, according to The Star.

Mr Richards has been charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm.

Emergency services were called at about 3.45am on 16 September to reports of a fire and disturbance at the family home in Goode Drive, Shawnee, southwest of Kansas City.

According to the affidavit obtained by The Star, one of Mr Richards’ younger children had called 911 to say he had seen his mother being stabbed and was then chased through the garage by his father.

Police arrived to find three stab victims outside, and smoke billowing from the property. An explosion occurred which blew out the garage windows, according to police.

Matthew Richards tried to burn down his home and stabbed his wife and five children after facing eviction from his home in Shawnee, Kansas, authorities say (Google Maps)
Matthew Richards tried to burn down his home and stabbed his wife and five children after facing eviction from his home in Shawnee, Kansas, authorities say (Google Maps)

One of Mr Richards’ children told detectives that the family “were all in bed when dad came around stabbing everyone and they all ran outside”, according to the affidavit obtained by Law and Crime.

The affidavit stated that Mr Richards’ wife remained in a critical condition in hospital last week.

One of his sons suffered a slash wound across his neck, while another had stab wounds to his right chest and abdomen that left his internal organs exposed. A third son suffered stab wounds to his colon, liver, neck and back, while his daughter was stabbed in the arm.

Mr Richards was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation before being charged.

“I stabbed my family,” he told police, according to the affidavit.

Mr Richards told police he decided to burn down the home and stab his family as he had not “been honest with his wife regarding their financial situation and the fact that they were supposed to be evicted that very day,” according to Law and Crime.

“They had not packed anything and no one in the family knew they were being evicted.”

Mr Richards is a former youth pastor at the Crossroads Christian Church in Shawnee.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the church said it was “shocked, sickened, and saddened” by the incident.

“This is a tragedy beyond what any of us could have imagined,” the church said.

Mr Richards is being held on $5m bond in the Johnson County jail.