Murder of Church Leaders or Their Staff

The following cases are killings of church leaders or of their staff. Many deaths appear to be revenge for adultery or sexual abuse. Other incidents may result from parasitic crime, meaning that  victims were preyed upon by offenders they were already involved with. Thus, many murder victims were themselves involved in illegal behavior, and MOST deaths were unrelated to their religious affiliation.

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

  • Unidentified church, Durham County, NY. Charles Forest Davis (deacon) stabbed to death during a robbery. The victim’s car was also taken. Church Deacon Murder Case Headed For Retrial.
  • Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Hammond, LA. Edward Everitt (priest) found shot dead in his home with robbery the apparent motive. His wallet and SUV were missing. A maintenance man at the home was arrested. OnStar Helps Nab Suspect in Priest Murder.
  • First Lutheran Church of Logan Square, Chicago, IL. Sally Katona-King (deacon) was killed during a robbery she was shoved down a stairway at a transit station. Teen Charged in CTA Shoving Death.

2010

  • United House of Prayer for All People, Richmond, VA. Anthony L. Taylor (pastor) was killed when the suspect in a police chase crashed into him at “well over 90 miles an hour.”  Update: Darryl Harris Pleads Guilty in Death of Pastor.
  • Unity Church, Abilene, TX. Karen Lee Johnson, (pastor) was killed by a parishioner she was ministering to at the parishioner’s home in a pre-meditated attack. The transgendered suspect had “fantasized about torturing women since the age of 10.” The pastor’s throat was slit, and she was stabbed numerous times. The offender suicided following the killing. This appears to be a sexually motivated homicide. Pastor Killed by Church Member.
  • Chattanooga, TN. David Strong (minister) was bound and tortured with a stick. The offender alleged the minister solicited a sex act repeatedly for money. He was stabbed multiple times, and his throat was cut. Police were skeptical of the homosexual allegations, but one offender gave quite a detailed account. That offender also has a history of several psychological disorders including schizophrenia. Henry: ‘I Snapped’ After Strong Asked For Sex Act.
  • Franciscan Handmaids of Mary Convent, Harlem, New York, NY. Mary Celine Graham (nun) was stuck by a motor vehicle fleeing police as part of a street robbery. The nun and two others were pedestrians at the time of the incident. Two Men Charged With Murder for Harlem Crash That Killed Elderly Nun.

2009

2008

2007

  • AME Zion Church, Great Barrington, MA. Esther Dozier (pastor) allegedly stabbed to death by her husband. Great Barrington pastor stabbed to death; husband arrested, pleads not guilty.
  • New Life Assembly of God, Wellington, IN. Mark Petric (pastor) shot in the head by his son. Pastor’s Son Charged in Mother’s Murder, Father’s Shooting.
  • First Presbyterian Church, Bessemer, VA. Nancy Copin (associate pastor) found murdered in the church parsonage, dead of blunt force injuries. Minister Found Beaten to Death in Virginia Parsonage.
  • Unidentified Catholic church, Archdiocese of Boston, MA. John Geoghan (defrocked priest) was killed in prison where he served time for child molestation. He was found bound and gagged. Defrocked Priest Murdered.

2006

  • Fourth Street Church of Christ, Selmer, TN. Matthew Winkler (pastor) was shotgunned to death in a bedroom of the parsonage. She was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for having shot him during an argument. Wife Who Killed Preacher Set Free.
  • Peniel Baptist Church, Orlando, FL. Estelien Filus (deacon) was allegedly shot and killed by his in-law. It happened after the service as they tidied up the church. The teen shooter was wearing a mask and carrying a firearm in order to steal the offering after Easter services. In-Law Charged in Killing of Deacon Outside Church.
  • Crossroads Baptist Church, near Lorena, TX. Kari Lynn Baker’s death (pastor’s wife) was originally ruled a suicide. Her husband was arrested. Article Says Preacher Charged With Killing Wife a Sexual Predator.
  • Ministry of Jesus Christ Church, Baton Rouge, LA. Claudia Brown (head pastor) was shot in her church along with four others. The suspect was the pastor’s son-in-law. Anthony Bell Found Guilty.
  • Mr. Mann’s Blessed Trinity Baptist Church, Harlem, New York, NY. Philip Melvin Mann (pastor) was stabbed to death by a man who claimed the pastor was “making sexual advances toward him.” Arrest Is Made in Killing of Veteran Harlem Minister.

2005

  • Trinity Lutheran Church, Arlington Hts., IL. Ivon Harris (pastor) was killed in a double homicide inside the pastor’s home. He and his daughter were beaten with chairs, their throats slashed, and then set on fire. The victims were alive at the start of the fire. The suspect, who confessed, is a male house cleaner who is alleged to have been caught stealing in an attempted burglary. Housecleaner Held in Double Slaying.
  • St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church; Park City; Holy Cross Ministries, Herber City, UT. Aniceto Armendari (deacon) was ambushed in a remote setting. The victim worked with new immigrants and both suspects are Latino immigrants. Deacon’s Murder Can’t Derail Couple’s Dream.
  • Hollywood Baptist Church, GA. Thad John Glenn Reynolds (deacon) was stabbed at his non-religious food distribution warehouse workplace. His wife and her new alleged paramour, an assistant pastor, were subsequently arrested. One Year Later, Church Still Healing From Deadly Love Triangle.

2004

2003

  • Church at Philadelphia, Fort Worth, TX. Gregory Wayne Spencer (pastor) was “hogtied, gagged with a towel and shot in the back of the neck” at a motel. He also was strangled and had cuts to his neck. The pastor’s car was also taken, along with cash or personal items. Man Pleads Guilty to Killing Pastor.
  • Archdiocese of Boston, MA.  John Geoghan (former priest) was murdered while in prison for child molestation. He was strangled with a bedsheet fashioned into a ligature and then beaten about the chest. His killer was also a victim of childhood sexual abuse—incarcerated for an unrelated murder involving a same-sex sexual advance that occurred while he was hitchhiking. John Geoghan — The Pedophile Priest Killed By A Molestation Victim In Jail.
  • Ursuline Convent, Hamilton, GA. Philomena Fogarty (nun) was killed and dismembered. She was first kidnapped, then bound and gagged. Norfolk Arrests Suspect in Slaying of Ga. Nun.

2002

  • Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, MO. Carol Bledsoe (church secretary) was attacked by a homeless drifter who slashed her throat. The church operates a ministry to the homeless. Ministry Continues a Year After Slaying at Church: Services Honor Memory of Church Secretary Who Helped Homeless.
  • Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Memphis, TN. Alfred DeWayne Hill (pastor) shot multiple times while in New Orleans, “found slumped over the steering wheel.” 1) Memphis pastor found shot in N.O. Associated Press. The News-Star (Monroe, LA), 9Aug2002. [see Newspapers.com] 2) Christians Killed in Pakistan, ‘Make Me Your Voice’ & more. 1999
  • El Tabernaculo Pentecostal Church, East Tremont, NY. Angel Colon Jr. (senior pastor) shot in the head by his gay lover. Pastor had recently filed to divorce his wife. Victim’s car and ATM card were stolen. ‘Killer’: I Was Rev.’s Gay Lover.

2001

  • Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA. Nafes Johnson (junior minister) killed by a stray bullet as he sat in a van. Suspect in slaying of pastor arrested, James McAllister, 17, turned himself in. Nafes Johnson, 19, Was Killed By A Stray Bullet While Sitting In A Van. Newslibrary.com.

2000

1999

1998

  • St. Michael Catholic Church, Dane, WI. Alfred J. Kunz (priest) was found in the hallway of a church school with his throat cut. He was considered a controversial conservative who had his own radio talk show. He also was an exorcist, though his killing is believed related to his knowledge of priests’ sexual misconduct. Murdered Catholic Priest Knew Too Much?
  • Grace Episcopal Church, New York, New York. Roger Mook (worker) was stabbed in the rectory while Sunday mass took place next door. There were a large number of stab wounds. Metro News Briefs: New Jersey; Bail of $250,000 Is Set In Church Worker Death.

1997

  • Centercrest Baptist Church, Birmingham, AL. Brian Tribble (music director) was shot at church when he interrupted a burglary. The offender’s girlfriend was pressuring him to help pay rent, which led to the break-in. Slain Center Point Music Minister Remembered.

1996

1995

1994

  • Sung Lim Presbyterian Church, Queens, New York, NY. Jong Kyu Kim (pastor) was shot in what was an apparent robbery by robbers who mistook his level of wealth. They set him on fire to cover their crime. The three suspects were seeking to rob drug-dealers and prostitutes and the minister was setting out the trash. Suspects did not know it was a church. 3 Arrested In Pastor’s Death In Queens Church Robbery.
  • St. James Episcopal Church and School, Hancock Park, Los Angeles, CA. David John Falconer (organist) was shot to death in a robbery outside a convenience store. When the Music Stops: Choirmaster Slain in Holdup Is Remembered Fondly.

1993

1992

  • First Baptist Church, Easton, PA. Joseph Thomas Thompson, Jr. (minister) was killed by gunshot on the street by a man using drugs to quiet his mental illness. The offender was “obsessed with Charles Manson and notoriety.” Jury Finds Bercaw Guilty In Slaying.
  • St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Upland, CA. Phillip Perry (deacon) was believed killed in the USA but left dead in Mexico. His mouth was taped shut. The deacon is alleged to have been having an affair with the shooter’s wife. San Diego Man Arrested For Allegedly Killing Church Deacon.

1991

1990

1989

  • First Unity Baptist Church, Chicago, IL. George Norwood (deacon) was robbed of $30 and stabbed. One arrested suspect is his alleged cocaine-using grandson. Grandson Charged In Church Deacon’s Murder.
  • Unidentified Church, Lakeville, IN. Robert Pelley (pastor) was killed in a quadruple homicide that included his family members. His son was eventually convicted. A Family Divided — Part 1.
  • St. William’s Catholic Church, Guntersville, AL. Francis Leslie Craven (priest) was killed in a brutal beating and burned. The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, by Michael Newton. P. 305.

1988

  • Haven of Rest Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, IL. John Connor (pastor) died from being beaten in his home. It is alleged nothing of value was stolen although his home was ransacked. A former church janitor, fired from his job, has been charged in this death. Pastor Who Loved Everyone Slain.

1987

1986

  • First Church of the Brethren, Carol City, FL. Bill Bosler (pastor) was stabbed 24 times during a robbery of the church parsonage—the robber forcing his way in. Man Admits Slaying Role, Police Say.

1985

  • Rising Daughters Baptist Church, Camden County, GA. Harold Swain (deacon) and his wife were killed when a man walked into a black church. They were shot during a Bible study. Jacksonville Man Found Guilty of Church Murders.
  • Unidentified church, Oklahoma City, OK. Richard Dogan (priest) was beaten to death in his apartment. Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, by Michael Newton. P. 306.
  • First Presbyterian Church, Buffalo, NY. Squire Haskin (organist) was beaten with a blunt object and some items had been taken. Beating Death of Church Organist Probed.
  • New Harlem Christian Center Church of Christ, Harlem, New York, NY. Wilbert Johnson (pastor) was found murdered in his home. He allegedly died of blunt force and with a plastic bag over his head. His stereo equipment was missing and there was no sign of forced entry. Harlem Pastor Slain In HOme; 2 Are Arrested.

1984

  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Ronan, MT. John Patrick Kerrigan (priest) disappeared and is presumed murdered due to found forensic evidence. His body was never located. His vehicle was and the evidence inside his trunk including blood was located near the shore of a lake. His name was later released as having been “suspected or implicated in the sexual abuse of minors.” 1980s Franciscan priest murders.
  • Unidentified church, Germantown, PA. Amos Norwood (deacon) bludgeoned to death in a cemetery. The offender said the killing was “motivated by five years of sexual abuse” by the victim. Pa. High Court Orders New Death Penalty Hearing in ’84 Murder of Germantown Deacon.
  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Ronan, MT. Father Carrigan (priest) was found strangled with a wire coat hanger. He also had $12,000 cash in his pocket. Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, by Michael Newton. P. 306.

1983

1982

1981

  • Macedonia United Brethren Church, Greencastle, PA. Donald Lewis Clark (pastor) murdered his wife by arsenic poisoning “to continue an affair with a teenager.” He later killed another wife in 1982 for the insurance money ($200,000). The pastor eventually suicided. Dead Pastor’s 2 Sides Shock Tiny Farm Town. Philadelphia Daily News, 6Jun1983, p. 3.
  • St. William’s Catholic Church, Denver City, TX. Patrick “Paddy” Ryan (priest) was murdered by a closeted homosexual he picked up on the highway. His body was found on the floor of a motel, face down and nude, with his hands bound. Offender claimed a sexual advance by the priest. The Unholy Mystery of the Murdered Priests.
  • St. Francis Convent, Amarillo, TX. Tadea Benz (nun) was murdered by stabbing and strangling. She was also raped. A Convent Nun Murdered on Halloween — True Crime.
  • St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Mishawaka, IN. Gerald Gherardi (organist) was found choked to death inside his apartment. Mishawaka Murders to Be Featured With Paula Zahn.

1980

1979

1978

  • Cases to be added. Please check back.

1977

1976

  • St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Brooklyn, New York, NY. Pancratius Krieg (priest) was shot to death after suspects announcing a robbery. The telephones were cut, and bystanders were ordered to the ground. They allegedly were seeking “proceeds from a bingo game held the night before.” The offenders later testified that they were strung out on drugs, but did not expect the priest to be there. 1) Priest in Brooklyn Is Slain As 3 Try to Rob Rectory.  2) Murder Defense Tied to Drug Use.

1975

1974

1973

  • Church of St. Bonaventure, Queens, New York, NY. John P. Conlon (priest) was shot dead in the basement of the rectory. Money was missing from the rectory safe. The convicted offender was Muslim but a former member of the Catholic church. Priest Fatally Shot in Queens Church. 

1972

  • Cases to be added. Please check back.

1971

  • Cases to be added. Please check back.

1970

1968

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (pastor) was murdered by shooting due his civil rights advocacy and outspokenness against the Vietnam War.

1965

  • Unidentified Baptist Church, Marion, AL. Jimmie Lee Jackson (deacon) an African American, was shot by a state trooper in Alabama during a non-violent protest. At the time of his shooting, he was trying to protect his mother from being beaten by police. His death inspired a civil rights protest march known as “Bloody Sunday.” Biography: Jimmie Lee Jackson.
  • All Souls Church, Washington, D.C. James Reeb (minister) was killed by white supremacists during a nonviolent civil rights protest. King Encyclopedia: Reeb, James.

1924

1922

  • Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, New Brunswick, NJ. Edward Wheeler Hall (priest) was shot execution-style in a rural ditch along with his female lover. Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, by Michael Newton. P. 153.

1921

Justifiable Homicide

Negligent Homicide

Attempted Homicide

  • Cases to be added. Please check back.

Please check back as there are many more to come for all years and all categories.