Former Shawnee youth pastor arraigned on attempted murder, arson

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 7:15 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A former church youth pastor, charged with five counts of attempted murder and another for aggravated arson, faced a Johnson County judge Monday afternoon.

41-year-old Matthew Richards was arraigned at 1:30 p.m. in the Johnson County District Court. He did not enter a plea during the hearing because he did not yet have an attorney. The judge appointed a public defender to represent Richards during future hearings.

Richards is charged with attempted pre-meditated murder and is currently being held on a $5 million bond.

The Shawnee, Kansas Fire and Police departments responded to the 6600 block of Goode Drive Saturday morning for a reported house fire and disturbance. They found a fire in the basement of the house and were able to quickly extinguish it, but they found more than just that when they arrived.

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Richards’ wife and children had several laceration injuries, leaving the mom and two children still in the hospital recovering. A 19-year-old and two other younger children have been released from the hospital.

Stuffed animals and paper hearts decorated a tree and the front yard of the family’s home Monday evening.

Richards previously held a position at the Crossroads Christian Church. The church released a statement Monday afternoon.

Richards was employed by Crossroads Christian Church until sometime over the weekend. At the time of his arrest the Church’s Senior Pastor Kurt Witten referred to Richards as the children’s pastor for the church in a statement on Facebook Saturday afternoon. The church has not said when it cut ties with Richards.

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“We are aware of the situation involving our children’s pastor, Matt Richards. We are gathering more information and will have a full statement at a later time. Please be respectful of this situation, as it is still an ongoing investigation. And please join us in praying for the Richards family during this time. Due to the sensitive nature of this situation, we will not be livestreaming Sunday’s services.”

Richards is scheduled to be in court again on Sept. 29.

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