Murder by Church Leaders or Their Staff

These are just a few of the killing incidents we have identified. Most entries on these pages only contain arrests, charges, or indictments, which may eventually be reduced, dropped, or expunged, and as such, these actors may in fact be innocent in a court of law. These are just a few of the murders, attempted murders, and justifiable homicides we have identified. There are many more to be uploaded, so please check back.

Click on the link to read the report.













  • Richard Lee Shahan (pastor) arrested for killing his wife by stabbing. Email allegedly showed he was “leaving his wife to marry a man in Europe.” First Baptist Church of Birmingham, Birmingham, AL – Pastor arrested in Tennessee for wife’s murder.
  • Donald Lafferty (former pastor) convicted of hiring a man to kill his wife and collect insurance money in an arson fire. She lived. Beach Grove (Baptist) Church, Dexter, MO. Ex-pastor gets 50 years in murder-for-hire plot.
  • Terry Lee Greer (pastor) was arrested for killing his wife and wounding his daughter, but was ruled “not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.” United Methodist Church, Gardendale, AL. Daughter of Terry Greer, former pastor who killed his wife, sues United Methodists.
  • Kenneth Allen Keith (pastor) pleaded guilty to killing three people inside a pawn shop during a robbery. Main Street Baptist Church, Burnside, KY. Burnside pastor pleads guilty.
  • Richard Shahan (former pastor) arrested for killing his wife, but not prosecuted due to lack of evidence. First Baptist Church, Birmingham, AL. Homewood minister charged with wife’s murder will not be prosecuted, AG announces.
  • Luther Jones (pastor) arrested for shooting his nephew in front of the pastor’s church. Belgrade Baptist Church, Newton County, TX.  Jury to decide murder case against man charged with killing nephew in front of church.
  • Michael Elder (pastor) arrested for murder in a domestic dispute with his son-in-law who had just filed for divorce from the pastor’s daughter. The Cross Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, OK. OKC pastor accused in shooting death of son-in-law.
  • Everett James Morris (missionary minister) was convicted of killing by cutting teen prostitute (Jorge Olivarez) with a knife. Texas Court of Appeals, Morris V. Texas, Number 12-16-00323-CR.
  • Hans Schmidt (priest) was convicted for the murder of Anna Aumüller. “He slashed Anna’s throat while she slept, drank her blood, raped her as she bled to death, dismembered her body, and threw the pieces from a ferry into the Hudson River. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, New York, NY. Michael H. Stone, & Gary Brucato, The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books), pp. 458-459. ISBN 978-1-63388-532-5.








  • Matt Dee Baker (pastor) was arrested for murdering his wife. Crossroads Baptist Church, Lorena, TX. The valley of the shadow of death.
  • Andrew David White (pastor’s son) was arrested for the murder a woman in the basement of the church parsonage. According to police, drugs may have played a role. Shady Grove Wesleyan Church, Colfax, NC. Minister’s son charged in death.



  • Howard Douglas Porter (pastor) convicted for killing an elderly man who he was swindling for over $1M. Hickman Community Church, Hickman, CA. Preacher convicted of murder loses support.
  • Anthony Hopkins (evangelist) convicted of murdering his wife, burying her, exhuming her and storing her in a freezer. Many other charges were made including incest. Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Jackson, AL. Unidentified church affiliation, Mobile, AL. Jury finds preacher guilty of murdering wife, sexually abusing stepdaughter.
  • Amos Hicks (pastor) pleaded guilty to killing his wife by gunshot. Church of the Living God, Pascagoula, MS. Moss Point pastor held in capital murder case.
  • Melvin Bynum (pastor) charged with killing his wife by strangulation. The body was placed in a car trunk and the vehicle dumped. Cry Out Loud Ministry, Sanford, NC. Sanford pastor charged with first-degree murder.
  • Richard Scott Harper (assistant pastor) arrested for allegedly killing his sexual rival with assistance of the victim’s wife. Hollywood Baptist Church, Rome, GA. Police: Triangle turns deadly Victim’s wife, pastor arrested.



  • Ryan G. Erickson (priest) judged by coroner’s jury to have murdered two in funeral home shooting. Erickson suicided as police closed in on him exercising a search warrant. St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Hurley, WI. Double murder is now 10 years old.
  • Michael “Mike” Tabb (minister & Navy chaplain) pleaded guilty to murdering his wife by beating her with a bludgeon. Tabb hung out at gentleman’s club during her funeral. Methodist Church, Troup, TX. Minister gets 55 years in prison for wife’s murder.
  • Neil Edgar Sr. (former pastor) was convicted of killing his 9-year old “who died of asphyxiation after being wrapped head to toe in duct tape.” God’s Creation Outreach Ministry, Kansas City, KS. Kansas man loses appeal for new trial in death of 9-year-old son.


  • Cases to be added. Please check back.


  • Cases to be added. Please check back.




  • Christ Community Church, Bainbridge Island, WA. Nickolas Hacheney (pastor) arrested and convicted for strangling his wife and then setting their home on fire as a cover for the crime. He was convicted in part due to the testimony of his adulteress girlfriend to whom he admitted the murder. Woman pursued by suspect testifies.
  • George Crossley (religious broadcaster) arrested and charged with “solicitation to commit murder and arson.” Orlando Sentinel 5/14/97


  • Williams Temple of the Apostolic Faith Church; The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ; Brooklyn, NY. Ben Williams (pastor) arrested for murder. This is a longstanding feud between two nearby churches regarding the successfulness of each that has ended in a murderous shooting.  Anger lingers in church-feud shootings. 
  • Landmark Church of God, Nitro, WV. Mike Flippo (minister) arrested for murdering his wife. He claimed they were being stalked, but he had recently drawn a $100,000 insurance policy on her.  Minister faces murder charge in wife’s death.
  • Unidentified church, Plant City, FL. Samuel L. Smithers (deacon) arrested for killing two female prostitutes. One was apparently beaten with an axe and stabbed. He was convicted and placed on death row. The mysterious Mr. X.
  • Great Poplar Springs Baptist Church, Jasper, FL.  John Patton (deacon) arrested for shooting his wife. He wrongly suspected she was cheating on him. 99-year old man blows away cheating wife. Weekly World News, Apr 9, 1.



  • Strength for Living Church, Jacksonville, FL. Ronnie Lee Hyde (youth pastor) found guilty for murdering and dismembering a 16-year old boy. Remains were found outside of a dumpster.  Counselor, former youth pastor accused of killing teen in 1994.
  • Hebert Valmond (pastor) arrested by immigration officials because he is suspected of being a war criminal, participating in the torture and massacre of Haitian peasants. Pastor arrested as war criminal.



  • Currently at Chapel of Change, Long Beach, CA. Brian Warth (pre-pastor) and gang member, murdered a 16-year old. He pled guilty to 2nd degree murder.  From murder to ministry, reformed Long Beach pastor preaches redemption.
  • Unidentified Baptist church, Bastrop, LA. Freddie Armstrong (pastor) arrested for “killing another minister at a funeral home and cutting off his head.” Minister killed: Pastor arrested in slaying of another in funeral home.



  • Henry Meinholz (deacon) has been charged killing a 13-year old girl who lived nearby and burying her partially nude body in his basement. First Baptist Church, Plymouth, MA. Neighbor pleads innocent in Benoit slaying.
  • Joseph Wilfred (pastor) was arrested and charged with shooting and killing a juvenile male regarding a dispute surrounding payment for sex. The victim was identified as Jessie Terrell Sibley (19). When police arrived, the pastor had a second man at gunpoint as well. Unidentified church, New Orleans, LA. Pastor arrested for murder in fight over sex. Abbeville Meridional (Abbeville, LA) 6-Sep-1990, p. 2.



  • Emmanuel Church of Christ Oneness Pentecostal, Nashville, TN. John David Terry (minister) was convicted of shooting a church handyman, beheaded him, and left the redressed body in a burning church. Terry also had stolen $30,000 from the church’s funds. The minister later died by suicide in prison. Minister sentenced to death.



  • Gethsemane Baptist Church, Washington, DC. Louis B. Sawyer (deacon) arrested on charges of murder. He is alleged to have used a shotgun to kill the financial secretary who suspected him of embezzlement. Church deacon held in D.C. slaying.


  • Cases to be added. Please check back.





  • Mercy Hospital Chapel, Toledo, OH. Gerald Robinson (priest & chaplain) convicted of killing a nun by strangulation and stabbing, and then later “presided over her funeral mass.” A ritual expert described the stab wounds as in pattern of inverted cross.  1) Murder of Margaret Ann Pahl on Holy Saturday.  2) Father Gerald Robinson: Devil or Priest.
  • By Divine Purpose Christian Center; & West Brighton ministry, Staten Island, NY. James D. Burrus (pastor) was arrested in 2020 for the cold case murder of a strangled teenaged female. He was linked to the murder through his DNA found under the girl’s fingernails. Inside the double life of a NYC preacher charged in cold case murder.
  • Wade Temple of Faith, Gary, IN. Eugene Wade (pastor) was convicted of murdering his former mother-in-law by beating, stabbing and shooting her. His weapon was a hammer, a pocket-knife, and a handgun. Pastor Killed Mom-in-law. Burlington Times News, May 7, 1982, p. 5A.
  • Church of God of the First Born, Leoti, KS. Fidel Rodriguez (former pastor) was arrested and charged with shooting and killing another former pastor, Gustavo Ornelas. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Former Leoti Pastor Convicted in Death. Hutchinson News, May 23 1981, p. 20.

Circa 1980s


  • Cases to be added. Please check back.



  • Cases to be added. Please check back.



  • Cornerstone Church (megachurch), Madison, TN. Maury Davis (pastor) was convicted of manslaughter for the brutal killing of a Sunday School teacher. The victim was beheaded. Two killings, but just one shot at redemption.
  • Trinity Church Chapel Christian Reform Church, Bible Camp, Delaware County, GA. David Zandstra (former pastor) confessed to authorities that he killed an eight-year-old girl who was attending a Bible camp for which the pastor was involved as a host. He was charged with murder, kidnapping, and other charges.  Former Pastor Arrested, 1975 Murder Young Girl Walking To Church.


  • Unidentified church, Hilltop, AZ. Johnny Lee Riley (former pastor) pled guilty to second-degree murder in killing of a motel manager during a robbery attempt. Ex-minister gets 10 years for Arizona slaying.
  • Christ Lutheran Church, Witchita, KS. Dennis Lynn Rader (president of church council) killed 10 victims. Known as the BTK, he was a serial killer. Dennis Rader, Wikipedia.



  • First Black Church of the Messiah, Wilmington, NC. Ben Chavis (pastor) was charged with “conspiracy to murder,” having been accused of participating in a “sniper shooting of Harvey Edward Cumber.” The white victim was found shot in a majority black neighborhood. Militant Black pastor arrested on murder-conspiracy charge. Danville Register and Bee (Danville, VA). 17-Mar-1972, p. 14.






  • Union Baptist Church, Des Moines, IA. Seymour J. Gaines (pastor) was charged for the murder of Johnnie Brown. The pastor defended by claiming he shot husband of one of his parishioners who thought the pastor was attempting to get his parishioner to leave the man. Pastor arrested on murder charge. The Terre Haute Tribune, 16-Jan-1956, p. 6.



  • First Polish Baptist Church, Camden, NJ. Walter Dworecki, aka “Iron Mike” (preacher) had his daughter killed in a murder-for-hire plot in an effort to collect insurance money. The victim was stabbed and beaten. Murderpedia: Rev. Walter DWORECKI.


  • St. Paul’s Lutheran Church; Pick City, ND. Heid Janssen (pastor) is alleged to have murdered his 16-year-old live-in housekeeper by poisoning. He subsequently tried to cover up the killing by setting the parsonage on fire. The pastor later confessed to impregnating the young girl and killing her to try to cover it up. He was convicted. Eighty-three years later, new details emerge in the case of a Lutheran pastor who murdered his 16-year-old maid. 83-Years Later New Details Emerge in the Case of a Lutheran Pastor Who Murdered His 16-Year-Old Maid.


  • Unidentified church, Moulton, AL. L. P. Royer (pastor) was charged with murder of Frank Pickens (deacon). The pastor’s son assisted in what was described as an ambush shooting. Pastor arrested on murder charge. The Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, OK), 24-Jul-1934, p. 1.


  • Unidentified church, Youngstown, OH. Alphonse Steel (pastor) was charged with murder that occurred in Fort Valley, GA, but he is also known as Nims Morris. Pastor arrested on murder charge. Daily News (New York, NY), 17-Jul-1928, p. 166.


  • Unidentified church, Madison, KY. I. M. Perkins (former pastor) was indicted for beating his son Odie Franklin Perkins to death with a leather whip for having disregarded an order not to play “in an ash heap bareheaded.” The victim was a four-year-old negro male. Negro charged with whipping son to death. Madison Daily Messenger (Madison, KY), 29-Sep-1927, p. 1.


  • Methodist Church, Tacoma, WA. George A. Seely (pastor) was charged with murder in the killing of Emile Matsumoto. The pastor was part of a raiding party set out to smash a still. Federal prohibition agents claimed the victim had fired first. Pastor arrested on murder charge. Anderson Daily Bulletin (Anderson, IN), 1-Sep-1926, p. 2.



  • Unidentified church, Santa Rosa, CA. Richard Spencer (former preacher) was arrested, accused of drowning his wife in a lake late at night. Preacher arrested in wife’s drowning. New York Times, August 22, 1921, p. 3.


  • Unidentified church, New Sweden, ME. Charles Emelius (minister) is arrested and accused of murdering August Jacobson. Originally labeled a suicide, the case was reopened by the state’s attorney general. Pastor arrested on murder charge. The Buffalo News, 8-Jun-1912, p. 1.
  • Immanuel Baptist Church, Cambridge, MA. Clarence Virgil Thompson Richeson (pastor) was charged with first degree murder for the killing of Avis Linnell (19) who was poisoned with potassium cyanide. The victim was the pastor’s fiancé. Boston pastor arrested for murder. Livingston Enterprise (Livingston, MT), 21-Oct-1911, p. 1.



  • St. Joseph Catholic Church, Lorain, OH. Agatha Reichlin (priest’s sister) was killed in her own bed and a priest was charged with murder. Priest is in jail on charge of murder. Plain Dealer, Lorain, OH, p. 1, +2. May 1903.


  • Francis Hermann (pastor) fled the church upon the death of Henrietta Clauson who was hired to look after the parsonage. In 1986, the pastor is alleged to have butchered and dismembered a second woman. Two other women were also believed victims of his murderous rampage. He is reported to have escaped arrest and was considered a fugitive. First Norwegian-Danish Methodist Episcopal Church, Superior, WI. Francis Hermann, Wikipedia.

Negligent Homicide

Attempted Murder

2023 – Matthew Lee Richards (youth pastor) was charged with setting a house on fire in an attempt to kill his wife and children whom he also had stabbed. Crossroads Christian Church, Shawnee, KS. Shawnee church provides statement after youth pastor was charged in house fire.

2019 – Do You Believe Outreach Ministry, Memphis, TN. Norman Hudson (pastor) charged with stabbing one of his neighbors in the neck. His criminal history began as early as 1990 with serious criminal charges. Memphis pastor accused of raping, pouring insecticides down neighbor’s throat.

2017 – Union Baptist Church, Chester, SC. Robert Worthy Senior (assistant pastor) arrested on “two counts attempted murder and one count of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.” Allegedly shot his estranged wife inside a Christian bookstore in Chester, SC. 1) Man charged with attempted murder after shooting in Chester Christian bookstore. 2) Jury finds Chester pastor guilty after wife, mother-in-law shot at Christian store.

2013 – Eddie Mallonee (pastor) arrested for conspiracy to murder his wife. Tennesee: Former Baptist pastor arrested.

2011 Unity in Prayer Ministry, B.C., Shreveport, LA. Willie Guiden (pastor) killed his wife inside their home. Shreveport pastor, wife dead in apparent murder-suicide.

2009 – Salvation Army Church, Greenwood, IN. Jonathan James Hartman (youth pastor) arrested for child sexual assault of three young girls. The offender is also alleged to have “hatched the plot in a jail cell, and planned to have up to 13 people murdered.” One of the females was impregnated. Prosecutor: Former youth pastor tried to hire hit man to kill witnesses.

2003 – First Presbyterian Church, Auburndale, FL. Bruce Whitney (former pastor) arrested for attempted murder of his wife. It is alleged he struck her with a patio block and then choked her. minister faces attempted murder charges.

1992 – Chapel of Change (current church), Paramount, CA. Brian Warth (pastor) formerly convicted of killing Francisco Luna Jr. “Members of the Carson family also are still angry with Warth, whom they say has used the death of their son, brother, cousin and uncle to profit a ministry.” From murder to ministry, reformed Long Beach pastor preaches redemption.

1987 – Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles, CA. Walker Railey (former minister) was indicted charging him with strangling his wife nearly to death. Pastor arrested for attempted murder. San Angelo Standard-Times, 26-Aug-1992, p. 16.

Murder for Hire

2019 – Calvary Fellowship, Chester County, PA. Attempted murder-for-hire. Jacob M. Malone (youth pastor) was arrested and charged with attempting to solicit murder of his senior pastor and a and a court judge. Pastor got teen pregnant, then ordered hit on colleague who reported him, police say.

2018 – Harvest Bible Chapel, IL.  James McDonald (pastor) is being investigated for attempting to hire a hit man. Megachurch founder James MacDonald allegedly sought murder for hire, police investigating.

2016 – Unidentified church. Stephen Allwine (preacher) on trial for allegedly hiring a hitman with bitcoin to kill his wife. Preacher who cheated using Ashley Madison, tried hiring hit man on dark web in bid to murder wife, cops say.

2015 – Harvest Bible Chapel, IL.  James McDonald (pastor) is being investigated for attempting to hire someone to kill his former son-in-law. Megachurch founder James MacDonald allegedly sought murder for hire, police investigating.

2012 – Ministerios Manantial de Vida church, near San Benito, TX. Julio Cesar Perez (pastor) pleaded guilty to hiring a hitman from within his church to shoot his wife. 1) Pastor sentenced 45 years in prison for wife’s murder.  2) ‘Someone in the way’: Pastor arrested for hiring hit men to murder his wife – and recruited them from within his own church.

2009 – Arc of Baltimore; Greater Faith Tabernacle Church of Deliverance, Baltimore, MD. Kevin Jerome Pushia (pastor) arrested for paying hitman to kill a homeless man of whom he had taken out insurance on. City pastor charged with having man killed for life insurance.

Serial Killers

  • Tom Bird, Lutheran pastor
  • Dennis Lynn Rader, deacon
  • Samuel L. Smithers, deacon