Tag Archive: Murder

Black Collar Crime: Pastor Tim Crumitie Accused of Murder

tim crumitie

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Tim Crumitie, former pastor of an unnamed church, stands accused of murder.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

One of two bullets lodged in her head made it difficult for Kimberly Cherry to speak.

When asked by a 911 operator in August 2016 to identify the person who had shot her, Cherry’s halting voice seemed to teeter on the edge of consciousness. But her answer was clear.

“His name is Tim,” she said.

Sitting between his two attorneys, Tim Crumitie showed no emotion Monday morning as the voice of his former girlfriend – and an expected witness against him – wafted through the courtroom, opening the former minister’s first-degree murder trial in a haunting way.

The 52-year-old convicted felon is accused of the predawn ambush of Cherry and her boyfriend Michael Gretsinger in University City. Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones told the jury that after springing from behind the front door of the couple’s apartment, Crumitie fired two shots, execution style, into Gretsinger’s head. The Charlotte man died about 10 days later.

Crumitie then bound the arms of Cherry, put her in the passenger seat of her own car, and eventually drove her to his Rowan County home, Jones said, “figuring out what he wanted to do.”

Later that morning, Crumitie doubled back, Jones said, driving Cherry’s car to a construction site near her apartment. There, according to Jones, Crumitie shot her once in the back of the head. After Cherry fell to the ground, Jones said, Crumitie shot her again in the left temple.

Miraculously, Cherry was still alive when Crumitie put her in the trunk of the car and started driving again. Eventually the car stopped. At that point, Cherry popped the trunk and escaped, Jones said. A neighbor at the Ardmore Kings Grant apartments called 911.

Eventually, Cherry got on line. “Please send someone to help me,” she said.

If convicted of the murder charge, Crumitie faces a mandatory life in prison without parole. He is also charged with assault, kidnapping and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Cherry.


How much they [the jury] will hear about Crumitie’s past before making that decision remains unclear.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis cleared the way for prosecutors to mention that Crumitie served eight years in prison back in the 1990s for armed robbery and other crimes.

Crumitie also has been physically present or criminally linked to three mysterious shooting deaths over less than a decade – including those of his wife and a former business partner.

In 2005, while Crumitie was a Kannapolis pastor, he was charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of Danny Johnson, who operated a flooring company next door to the church. Crumitie spent five years in jail before authorities dropped the charges, saying they lacked the evidence to take the case to trial.

Eight years later, Crumitie was the lone surviving witness to a double homicide inside the garage of his Concord home.

He told police that during an attempted robbery, James Blanks fatally shot Crumitie’s wife, Sharon, then shot Crumitie in the hand before Crumitie wrested the gun away and shot and killed Blanks in self defense. No charges were filed.

At the time of the 2016 shooting, Gretsinger’s family questioned why someone with Crumitie’s background was not in jail.

“It’s shocking. It’s frightening … Why is he out there?” Kim Gretsinger, the victim’s mother, told WCCB the day after the shooting.


Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Tiffanie Irwin Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter

pastor tiffanie irwin

Tiffanie Irwin, pastor of Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, New York, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Eight other church members were sentenced for their parts in the crime.

In October 2016, The Daily Mail reported:

The pastor of a small church where two brothers were beaten for hours during a counseling session that she called pleaded guilty on Friday to manslaughter and assault.

Three other church members admitted to less serious charges for their roles in the all-night beatings that killed Lucas Leonard, 19, and injured Christopher Leonard, 17, last October.

Word of Life Christian Church Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, her brother Joseph Irwin and mother and son church members Linda Morey and David Morey were the last of nine people charged to be convicted in the attack.

Investigators said the attack took place after the brothers discussed leaving the congregation.

Joseph Irwin and the Moreys each pleaded guilty to assault.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara called the case ‘a terrible tragedy.’

‘I can only hope that Luke can rest in peace, Chris can get on with his life,’ McNamara said.

The victims’ parents and half-sister and the pastor’s mother and a second brother were among those charged after members of the secretive church took the bloodied body of Lucas Leonard to a hospital, where doctors initially thought he had been shot.

Authorities later found his badly injured brother still inside the converted New Hartford school building that housed the church and living space for its leaders.

Christopher Leonard testified at an earlier hearing that Tiffanie Irwin asked his family and some others to stay behind for a meeting after an eight-hour Sunday service last October.

Over the next 14 hours, he said, he and his brother were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord.

McNamara has said the brothers were ordered during the beating to repent for a variety of sins, including using a voodoo doll.

Police have said there was no evidence to support a claim by their half-sister, Sarah Ferguson, that they had molested her children.

Ferguson was convicted of manslaughter and assault after a non-jury trial in July.

The only defendant to decline a plea deal, she was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison.

The victims’ parents, Deborah and Bruce Leonard, pleaded guilty to assault.

The church’s matriarch, Traci Irwin, and her son Daniel Irwin, a deacon, admitted to counts of unlawful imprisonment.

Sentencings are scheduled for December and January.

According to Wikipedia, the following sentences were handed down:

As of January 9, 2017 the disposition of the cases against the nine people involved on the assault on Lucas Leonard are as follows:

Bruce Leonard, the father, who whipped both boys during the session pleaded guilty to felony assault was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

Deborah Leonard, the mother, who whipped them during the session pleaded guilty to felony assault, and was sentenced to five years in state prison.

On September 1, 2016 half sister Sarah Ferguson was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted in July 2016 of manslaughter and assault.

Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, age 29, who called for the counseling session and oversaw its organization was sentenced on Dec. 19, 2016 to 12 years in state prison for manslaughter.

Joseph Irwin was sentenced on Dec. 19 to eight years in prison for gang assault.

David Morey was sentenced on Jan. 9, 2017 to five years in prison for assault.

Linda Morey who pulled the power cord out of the closet was sentenced on Jan. 9 to five years in prison for assault.

Traci Irwin, 50, and Daniel Irwin, 25, both pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment. Traci Irwin, who pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, has been sentenced to one year for each count. Daniel Irwin received two years in jail for his role in the death of Lucas Leonard.


Black Collar Crime: Woman Kills Adult Daughter With a Crucifix Because She Was Possessed by the Devil

geneva gomez

Geneva Gomez

Juanita Gomez, believing her daughter Geneva was possessed by the devil, shoved a crucifix down her throat, killing her in process. Today, Gomez was found guilty of first-degree murder. You might ask, Bruce, why are you publishing this story? This is not a crime committed by a clergyman. Actually, there is likely a clergyman responsible for putting in Gomez’s mind that there is a devil and he can possess people. Sadly, mythical nonsense can lead to all sorts of criminal behavior. As I looked at Geneva Gomez’s photograph, I couldn’t help but think that the coroner should put RELIGION as the cause of death on the death certificate.

CBS reports:

A jury in Oklahoma has convicted a woman of killing her 33-year-old daughter by forcing a crucifix and medallion down her throat because she believed the daughter was possessed by the devil.

Juanita Gomez, 51, was found guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2016 death of Geneva Gomez.

Geneva Gomez’s boyfriend found her lying on the ground inside her mother’s Oklahoma City home with her arms spread out as if she had been crucified. She was bloody and nearly unrecognizable, with a large crucifix placed on her chest and severe trauma to her face and head, police said.

Juanita Gomez allegedly admitted to punching her daughter repeatedly and forcing the religious symbols down the victim’s throat until blood came out of the woman’s mouth.

Gomez allegedly told police that she watched her daughter die and then placed her body in the shape of a cross. She then tried to clean her daughter and other items in the home, according to police.

Police noted that Juanita Gomez had very swollen hands and several bruises on her arms. She allegedly told police they were from her daughter fighting, during the attempt to “rid Satan from her daughter’s body.”

A psychologist found her competent to stand trial and said she was feigning memory problems to appear incompetent.

Gomez’s murder trial began this month, reports CBS affiliate KWTV. Jurors saw gruesome images of the victim’s body as her mother reportedly cried. Jurors also heard emotional testimony from Francisco Merlos, the boyfriend who found the victim’s body, and heard his frantic 911 call.


Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Church Elder Robert Harris Accused of Murdering His Wife

robert harris

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Robert Harris, an elder at Repairers Kansas City (also known as Repairers of the Breach Christian Center) in Kansas City, Missouri, was charged yesterday with murdering his wife, Tanisha Harris.

The Kansas City Star reports:

An Overland Park man was charged Wednesday with the killing of his wife, whose body was found in Cass County.

Johnson County prosecutors charged Robert Lee Harris Jr. with premeditated first-degree murder in the death of Tanisha Harris.

Overland Park police said Tuesday that officers were called to the couple’s apartment in the 8000 block of Perry Street around 4 p.m. Monday for a domestic disturbance.

Robert Harris was alone in the apartment, police said.

But later Monday night, he called police back to the apartment and and told them his wife was missing. Officers became suspicious of what he told them, and he then allegedly admitted he had a role in her disappearance, according to police.

The body of Tanisha Harris, 38, was found Tuesday morning in Cass County, and her 30-year-old husband was booked into the Johnson County Detention Center.

Court documents do not say how Tanisha Harris died.


Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest John Feit Found Guilty of 1960 Murder of 25-Year-Old School Teacher

john feit

John Feit, a former priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, was found guilty today of murdering a 25-year-old parishioner in 1960.

My San Antonio reports:

A former priest accused of killing a Rio Grande Valley beauty queen in 1960 was found guilty of murder with malice aforethought Thursday after a jury deliberated for about six hours.

John Feit, now 85, sat stone-faced and showed no emotion as he was convicted of killing Irene Garza, a 25-year school teacher, when he was 27 and serving as a fill-in priest in the Valley. Family members of the victim hugged each other after the verdict was read.

Garza was last seen going to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen where Feit heard her confession. Her body was found five days later in a canal. Autopsy results showed she had been raped while unconscious and died of asphyxiation, likely from suffocation.

Garza’s grisly killing during Holy Week 1960 haunted South Texas for decades and was the subject of a 48 Hours television special.

Feit’s conviction brings an end to one of the oldest cases in the Hidalgo County judicial system, but leaves unresolved allegations of a deal cut between the district attorney and church leaders to stop the investigation into Feit and avoid a scandal.

Will Murderous Evangelical Pastor Christopher Gattis Go to Heaven When He Dies?

christopher gattis

As the Black Collar Crime series has shown, Evangelical pastors can and do commit all sorts of crimes, including — in the case of Missouri-Synod Lutheran pastor Christopher Gattis — murder. Gattis stands accused of murdering his wife, stepdaughter, and the stepdaughter’s boyfriend on Thanksgiving Day.

Gattis worked for and was a member of a church that believes “the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God and the only revelation on both beliefs and practice.”  Lutherans believe people must persevere until the end to be saved (as do Calvinists). The difference between Lutherans and Calvinists, according to Douglas Sweeney, chair of the church history and history of Christian thought department and director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, is that Lutherans believe:

….the elect will certainly persevere in faith. God is not impotent to carry out his decrees respecting salvation. But not everyone who is born again is among God’s elect. It is possible for regenerated people to apostatize. So perseverance is largely a matter of walking in step with the Spirit, persevering, and encouraging other people to do the same.

According to Sweeney, Martin Luther believed that there were sins that could result in people losing their faith. Luther wrote:

“it is necessary to know and teach that when holy people—aside from the fact that they still have and feel original sin and also daily repent of it and struggle against it—somehow fall into a public sin (such as David, who fell into adultery, murder, and blasphemy against god), at that point faith and the Spirit have departed.” Luther, Smalcald Articles (1537), 3.3

None of us can know Christopher Gattis’ “heart.” For the purpose of this post, I am going to assume that he was a good Missouri-Synod Christian who loved Jesus, and the moment he committed the very public sin of homicide, the Spirit of God took flight from his soul and Gattis is now a sinner in need of conversion.

Using murderous, adulterous David as an example, Luther believed that when King David publicly sinned against God, faith and the Holy Spirit departed. Gattis, much like David, had a record of misconduct. In 2010 he was accused of public intoxication, and in 2012 he was charged with assault and battery.  Kevin Defford, his victim in the assault, said the following to the NBC-12:

“He was on edge that day, was my thinking,” says Kevin Defford, who is the victim in the 2012 case.

Defford was delivering samples of a newspaper with his son and tossed one onto Christopher Gattis’ driveway.

“On the way up, he had come from his driveway and was standing in the middle of the road,” said Defford.

He says Christopher Gattis threw the paper at his face and started yelling, even going as far as to pull out a box cutter.

“The fact that he pulled the box cutter, it had me thinking about my son at that point, and that’s why the police were called,” says Defford. “But again, it seemed like he was on edge that day when I met him.”

Christopher Gattis was found guilty, but the charge was dismissed once Christopher Gattis paid restitution. Now knowing this man is connected to a triple murder has Defford shaken.

“Now it makes me wonder a little more um, what might have been,” he said.

blood of jesus

It seems that Gattis has had several bouts of faithlessness. The good news is that if Gattis repents — telling God, my bad, Jesus. I promise never to kill anyone again — he can, once again, become a man after God’s own heart. No sin — no matter how perverse, vile, disgusting, or evil — is beyond the forgiving power of the miraculous blood of Jesus. For Gattis, restoration is but a prayer away.

Or is it?

Evangelicals love to talk about how bad they were before they became new creations in Christ Jesus. As anyone who has sat through a Baptist testimony time can attest, wild claims of depravity are quite common. The greater the sin, the greater the grace needed to save sinners from their sins. Over the course of the fifty years I spent in the Christian church, I never heard believers minimize their sinfulness. Oh no, the bigger the sinner, the better. This is why the history of Evangelicalism is filled with stories about people who were once witches, Satanists, and mob hit men before J-e-s-u-s saved them. Such people regale congregations with stories of murder, sexual abuse, demonic possession, sacrificing infants to Satan, and all sorts of perversion. Yet, Jesus somehow, some way, reached down into their wretched souls and saved them. (Of course, many of these wild testimonies are lies straight from the mythical pit of hell.)

Murderers present a real conundrum for Evangelicals. They know that David was a murderer, yet God forgave him, and he was considered not only a man after God’s own heart, but also a relative of Jesus. Evangelicals read and hear stories about murderers whose lives were transformed by the mighty working power of the triune God. This must mean, then, that murderers can be saved too, that even killing your family or strafing innocent men, women and children with weaponized drones is within the purview of Jesus, the savior of humankind. But, is it really? What does the Bible say on the matter?

Revelation 21:8 states:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Revelation 22:14,15 adds:

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.  For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. [OMG! all dogs go to hell!]

The writer of First John said:

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15)

Speaking of reprobates — those beyond the grace of God — the Apostle Paul said:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:26-32)

Paul emphatically states in Galatians 5:19-21 that murderers shall not inherit the Kingdom of God:

 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Did Christopher Gattis, by murdering his family, cross a line of no return? Has his nonrefundable ticket for the Lake of Fire been punched? Or, is there still hope for Gattis; that if he really, really, really says he is s-o-r-r-y that God will say to him, aw shucks, Chris, I forgive you. The Bible is incoherent on this matter, as it is with virtually every other theological, cultural, and social issue Christians say the Bible addresses. God said it, and that settles it, right?

Of course, there is no God, so flesh-and-blood humans are left with the unenviable task of trying to figure out why Gattis picked up a gun and murdered those closest to him. Was he mentally ill? Was he under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Did he shoot them in a fit of rage? If so, what caused him to be so angry? So many questions, and regardless of the answers, Gattis, if convicted, should spend the rest of his life in prison (and I know some readers think this is a death-penalty-worthy crime).

I grieve for those left behind in the wake of Gattis homicidal rage. And for those who attempt to paper over this tragedy with God, prayer, and faith? Child, please. Stop excusing bad behavior with nonsensical theological arguments and clichés. What’s next? — God needed more good angels so he used Christopher Gattis to send his family to heaven; that God always works things out according to his purpose and plan? Enough, already. (Please read Sutherland Springs Massacre: God Answered the Victims Prayers by Allowing Them to be Murdered.)

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Christopher Gattis Charged With Three Counts of First-Degree Murder

christopher gattis

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Christopher Gattis, a youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Richmond, Virginia, stands accused of murdering his wife, stepdaugther, and the stepdaughter’s boyfriend.

Fox News reports;

A Virginia youth pastor has been arrested in the shooting deaths of his wife, stepdaughter and the stepdaughter’s boyfriend in their home on Thanksgiving Day, police said.

Christopher Gattis, 58, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Police arriving at the family’s Chester, Va., home around 11:30 p.m. found the women’s bodies inside and the man’s body in the front yard, officials said.


Authorities identified the victims as Jeanett Gattis, 58; her daughter Candice “Candy” Kunze, 30; and Kunze’s boyfriend, Andrew Buthorn, 36. All of them lived together in the home, police said.

Neighbors said Kunze recently moved back home from Oregon, with Buthorn joining her. Neighbors also said the family runs a furniture store in nearby Petersburg, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.

Gattis was a youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, where he was a ministries coordinator for middle school and high school students.

“Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester, and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church,” the church said in a statement.



A November 27, 2017 Richmond Times-Reporter story by Ali Rickett reports:

A 58-year-old youth ministry director at a Chester church appeared in court Monday for the first time since he was charged with allegedly killing his family on Thanksgiving night.

Christopher R. Gattis faces three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Jeanett L. Gattis, 58; his stepdaughter, Candice L. Kunze, 30; and Andrew E. Buthorn, 36, his stepdaughter’s boyfriend. All three victims lived with Christopher Gattis in a home in the 14900 block of Dogwood Ridge Court, according to police, who found Buthorn in the front yard and the two women in the kitchen around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
It was Christopher Gattis who told the alarm company to send police, according to Elizabeth Caroon, a spokeswoman for the Chesterfield County Police Department. He was located outside the home and surrendered without incident.

Gattis was arraigned Monday in Chesterfield General District Court and in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
“Why am I in two different courts?” Gattis, who appeared by video from Riverside Regional Jail where he is being held without bond, asked the judge during his second arraignment.

Because two of the victims were family members, those cases were heard in domestic relations court, while the case involving Buthorn was in General District Court. They will likely be combined if the charges are certified by a grand jury and brought up to Circuit Court.

Gattis spoke clearly and calmly, though he hesitated at some of the legal questions, looking to someone off camera for prompting before answering. When he spoke, he tried to use his hands, which were cuffed together.

Both judges denied setting bond and appointed him an attorney, who can request a bond hearing later.


“Laws Don’t Stop People From Doing Bad Things,” Says a Local Law Enforcement Officer

The title of this post is a verbatim statement made by a gun-loving, middle-aged white Republican who likely voted for Donald Trump. This man, a member of local law enforcement, recently attended a meeting that I happened to attend as well. Prior to the start of the meeting, several government officials were discussing gun laws and firearm restrictions. One avid Trump supporter happily lent his support to the President Trump’s lie that cities with stringent gun laws — Chicago, in particular — have higher crime rates and firearm-related violence. (Please see Gun Laws, Death and CrimeIs Chicago Proof That Gun Laws Don’t Work? Chicago Toughest on Gun Control? A Claim Shot Full of HolesLaw Center to Prevent Gun Violence.) The member of law enforcement chimed in with several anecdotal stories about gun violence and firearms laws, and then, uttering the most absurd thing I have ever heard come out of a policeman’s mouth. The man said, “Laws don’t stop people from doing bad things.”

Having business before this government body, I thought it unwise to interject my pinko-commie-socialist-liberal thoughts into the discussion. I thought to myself, just another day in the right-wing nirvana of rural Northwest Ohio. Nothing I could say would change hearts and minds, and saying the wrong thing could have a negative outcome for me business-wise. Later that night, as I sat in my recliner thinking about the day’s events, I found myself becoming angry over what the police officer said. How dare a man who swore an oath to uphold federal, state, and local law, and to serve and protect local citizens say that laws don’t stop people from doing bad things. If this is truly the case, why not repeal all laws and let the man with the fastest draw and the straightest shot determine social order and freedom. Is this police officer so blinded by his support of the gun lobbies’ misinterpretation of the Second Amendment that he cannot see the importance of having laws? Surely, he thinks we should have laws prohibiting murder, rape, robbery, and sexual abuse. I highly doubt this officer is a libertine. Born and raised in this area, this officer has been deeply influenced by the political, religious, and social mores of rural Ohio. Why, then, would he emphatically state that laws don’t stop people from doing bad things?

If asked, I am sure that the officer would limit his statement to the efficacy of gun laws. Why, I ask, limit making laws to firearm regulations? Laws don’t stop some people from murdering, raping, or molesting children. Is this reason, then, to do away with laws that make such behaviors illegal? Of course not. So it is with gun laws. It is certainly true that gun laws don’t keep motivated criminals from securing firearms. That said, limiting access to certain firearms, accessories, and ammunition, would make it harder for criminals to use them, and in doing so, would save lives. Outlawing semi-automatic assault rifles and high-capacity clips, along with having universal background checks and severely restricting handgun ownership would go a long way in putting an end to mass shootings, and would also, in time, reduce criminal gun violence. One front on the battle against drug addiction and opioid-related deaths is regulating/controlling legal drug supplies, and aggressively going after those manufacturing, distributing, and selling drugs illegally. We know that this is the only way to put an end to the opioid crisis, so why, then, do we not use the same approach to gun violence? That current gun laws are often ineffective is agreed by one and all. But the answer is not to say, fuck it, and give up on attempts to craft effective laws that respect gun owner rights while at the same time putting an end to gun violence. If progressive countries such as England, Australia, Spain, and Japan can drastically reduce gun violence through legislative means, surely the United States can do the same. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Japan has a per-hundred-thousand homicide rate of .31, Spain .66, Britain .92, Australia .98, and the United States 4.88. I ask you, in that set of numbers, which one stands out to you?

Laws may not stop people intent on harming others from committing crimes, but imagine, for a moment, a society without laws and enforcers of law. Imagine a world where all disputes are settled by violence, and the people with the most powerful means of violence win. Why, we would be living in a world much like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or The Walking Dead and Mad Max. It is our laws and their enforcement that give structure and order to our society. Baptists should have the freedom to worship as they wish and not fear being murdered while they pray. Country concert goers should have the freedom to drink beer and sing tunes about women, beer and trucks and not fear being gunned down. All of us should have the freedom to go about our daily lives and not fear being murdered in our homes or at the grocery. The only way to protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is to have laws that are enforced for the common good. Until our political leaders stand up to the gun lobby and pass legislation restricting gun purchase, ownership, and use, we should expect continued mass shootings and gun-related crime and violence.

We, the people, have the power to stem the flow of blood in our streets. It remains to be seen if we will do so. Surely, twenty-six dead Baptists is enough to force the issue, right?  Surely, the mass shootings and gun violence of the twenty-first century, when taken collectively, will lead to systemic, nationwide change, right? Surely, now is the time to tell the NRA to go fuck itself, right? How many more people must die before we demand Congress and state legislatures send the gun lobby packing and begin to enact comprehensive gun regulation?

Hey, did you see what Trump tweeted?

Black Collar Crime: Pastor William Pounds III Convicted of Murdering His Lover

william pounds III

Yesterday, William Pounds III, pastor of King’s Chapel Memorial CME Church in Perry, Georgia, was convicted of murdering his lover.

Joe Kovac Jr, a reporter for The Telegraph, writes:

The trial was over, the guilty verdict was read and the former church pastor just convicted of murdering one of the two women he had simultaneously been engaged to marry shut the small Bible on the defense table in front of him.

At times during his four-day trial as his fate hung in the balance, William Claude Pounds III appeared to read that Bible and pray over it.

He stood accused in the June 2015 slaying of his longtime girlfriend and fiancee Kendra M. Jackson, a 46-year-old divorced mother of three who worked as a personal banker at the BB&T branch near Macon Mall. Pounds and Jackson had met at another local bank in 2000 and dated off and on for a decade and a half.

In the years before she died, they had been engaged to be married. Unbeknownst to her Jackson, Pounds would later ask an Atlanta woman for her hand in marriage. She, too, had said yes and Pounds had carried on relationships with both of his betrothed.

In the hours and days after Jackson died of a gunshot wound to the head, Pounds told investigators and acquaintances varying accounts of how Jackson had committed suicide.

The general story was that, in a fury over learning he was leaving her for the other lover, Jackson had grabbed his .40-caliber Springfield Armory pistol from his bedroom dresser and fatally shot herself in the right temple.

Pounds, 49, who had been pastor of King’s Chapel Memorial CME Church east of Perry, was a senior master sergeant in the Air National Guard. He worked at Robins Air Force Base.

On Tuesday, a jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about three hours and 15 minutes before finding him guilty of malice murder. At one point about an hour into their deliberations, they returned to the courtroom and asked to hear the 911 call that Pounds made the night Jackson died.

Near the beginning of the roughly seven-minute call, Pounds could be heard telling the emergency operator that Jackson “was trying to take the gun and she shot herself in the head,” only to rephrase that numerous times later in the call, saying, “I was trying to take the gun away from her,” and later adding six more times, “I was trying to take it from her!”

Pounds sat hunched over his Bible as the recording played, his head bowed and his hands clenched, thumbs twirling.

Other inconsistencies also plagued Pounds’ version of events from the night of July 11, 2015, when Jackson died on the floor of his Bel Meade Place townhouse just south of Macon’s Stinsonville Road.

Among the discrepancies were how Pounds told some people in the days afterward that Jackson had fired a shot at him, but did not remember whether she had done so when an investigator questioned him soon after it happened.

Police believe two bullets were fired the night Jackson died: one into Pounds’ bed, the other into Jackson’s skull.

Prosecutors believe Pounds made up his bed to hide the bullet hole in the bed.

Pounds also told a firefighter at the scene that he hadn’t been in the room when Jackson supposedly shot herself.

The varying scenarios of Jackson’s death — all attributable to Pounds, what with him the only one alive to tell — apparently didn’t fly with jurors. Nor would they with Bibb Superior Court Judge Howard Z. Simms.

As Pounds stood before him at sentencing, the judge said, “Mr. Pounds — and I’m not gonna dignify you by calling you Rev. Pounds, you didn’t earn that — you are a liar, you are a manipulator and frankly you are an outright charlatan.”

Simms rebuked Pounds’ litany of lies, telling him he had never heard anyone in his courtroom tell as many tales as Pounds had told when he testified and when he called 911 after Jackson died.

“I don’t believe that the truth is in you,” Simms said.

The judge said there was a price to paid for all that deceit.

“I sentence you to life in the penitentiary without the possibility of parole,” Simms said.


Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor-in-Training Matthew Phelps Accused of Murdering His Wife

matthew and lauren phelps

Matthew Phelps, an Evangelical pastor-in-training at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville,Kentucky, stands accused of murdering his wife.

People.com reports:

A 28-year-old North Carolina man is facing a murder charge after allegedly stabbing his wife in bed — but the newlywed claims he doesn’t remember carrying out the alleged crime because he might have done it in his sleep, PEOPLE confirms.

Matthew Phelps, of Raleigh, called police distraught early Friday morning, declaring that his wife, Lauren, was dead on their bedroom floor covered in blood.

“I had a dream and then I turned on the lights and she’s dead on the floor,” he says in a 911 call obtained by PEOPLE. “I have blood all over me and there’s a bloody knife on the bed and I think I did it. I can’t believe this.”

He told the dispatcher through tears that his wife wasn’t breathing and that he was afraid to get close to her — “I’m so scared,” he said.

Phelps is charged with murder and is being held at Wake County Detention Center without bail, a jail spokesperson tells PEOPLE. As police work to determine the circumstances around Lauren’s death, Phelps suggested during the 911 call that cold medicine he took the night before might have led to his alleged actions.

I took more medicine than I should have,” he said. “I took Coricidin Cough and Cold because I know it can make you feel good. A lot of times I can’t sleep at night. So, I took some.”

He added: “Oh my God. She didn’t deserve this.”

Phelps and Lauren had been married for less than a year, ABC News reports. Both of their apparent Facebook pages are filled with wedding photos of the young couple along with pictures that show their shared love for Star Wars.

Phelps’ account shows that he studied missions and evangelism at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College. Lauren was a Sunday school teacher and Phelps was studying to be a pastor, a friend told ABC.


Matthew Phelps has been married before. In 2011, Phelps married Lana Bowlin:

Lana Bowlin of Mount Vernon announces the engagement of her daughter, Marlanda Brooke Bowlin, to Matthew James Phelps, son of Melodye and Jason Campbell and grandson of Amel and Teresa Hardcastle of Bowling Green.

Brooke is also the daughter of the late Marvin Bowlin. She is a graduate of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and is a member of Calvary Baptist Church.
Matthew is a graduate of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and is a member of Calvary Baptist Church.

The wedding will be at 2 p.m. Aug. 6, 2011, at Calvary Baptist Church, with a reception afterward at the church.


In an October 18, 2017 report for The Morning Call, Thomas McDonald wrote:

Lauren Nicole Hugelmaier Phelps was the victim of 123 stab wounds and cuts last month during a frenzied attack in the bedroom of her home, according to an autopsy report made public Tuesday. Her husband, who faces murder charges, contends he took too much cold medicine before falling asleep, then awoke to find his wife’s bloody body.

State pathologists documented 44 cuts and stabs, some more than 4 inches deep, about her head and neck during the attack, according to the autopsy report. Those were part of a total 123 stabs and cuts all over her body that were thought to have been made with a kitchen knife, the autopsy said.

Matthew James Phelps, 29, is charged with first-degree murder and is currently being held in the Wake County jail without benefit of bail. Phelps called 911 just before 1:10 a.m. on Sept. 1 and described to a dispatcher that he had awakened to the bloody scene.

Emergency workers arrived at the couple’s townhouse in northwest Raleigh and found Lauren Phelps, 29, in a fetal position on the bedroom floor, according to the autopsy report. She was rushed to WakeMed and died in the emergency department at 1:43 a.m., according to the autopsy report.

In addition to the wounds to her head and neck, pathologists found 13 stab wounds and 11 cuts about her torso, 16 slashes and one stab wound on her right arm, along with 35 cuts and three stab wounds on her left arm. A stab wound on the left side of her neck completely severed her left jugular vein and her left common carotid artery, which supplies the head and neck with blood. Her body was covered with smeared blood, according to the autopsy report.

The state examiners surmised that the wound patterns were consistent with a single-edged blade, according to the autopsy report. Toxicologists did not detect alcohol in the woman’s body, nor did she have any pre-existing natural disease.


The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Evolution is to Blame for Everything from Racism to Murder Says David Whitney

pastor david whitney

This is the one hundred and fifty-fourth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of David Whitney, affiliated with the Institute on the Constitution, blaming everything from racism to murder on evolution.

In a sermon preached at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Pasadena, Maryland, Whitney stated:

“As in all public schools, evolution is inculcated and it teaches that there is no Creator God and that everything in the universe came into existence by chance and mistake, accident and is wholly without purpose and without meaning of any kind,” Whitney preached. “[Urbanski] was taught that mankind, including himself, was nothing more than a long compilation of mistakes and mutations and chance occurrences.”

“We should not be surprised then if Sean, with that background and education, concluded that life is meaningless, without any purpose at all,” he continued. “Or, if there is a purpose in life, it would be to advance and further the process of evolution; a process in which the strong destroy the weak and indeed, ultimately, that is the purpose for existence. Survival of the fittest therefore has some rather dastardly consequences which we see in the murder committed by a secular humanist of a Christian young man.”

“Evolution is also the basis of racism, [and] many assert that racism played a role in the motivation for this murder,” Whitney said. “You see, evolution is essentially racist. So where did Sean Urbanski learn racism? He learned it in his classes on evolution at the local public high school that his parents sent him to and his parents funded that school by the payment of their property taxes.”

Video Link


Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Daniel Nel Charged With Murder of His Three-Month-Old Son

pastor daniel nel

Daniel Nel, associate pastor of Rockyview Alliance Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was charged Friday with murder of his three-month-old son.

Global News reports:

Police have charged a Calgary pastor in connection to the death of his three-month-old son back in 2015.

Cyrus Nel was found in medical distress in his family’s home in the 600 block of Taradale Drive N.E. at around 9 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31.

Emergency crews rushed the boy to hospital but he died a day later.

In a Friday news conference, Insp. Don Coleman said the child’s father, 31-year-old Daniel Nel, had been charged with second-degree murder following a lengthy investigation involving consultation with a number of pediatric specialists.

“In consultation with the Crown, we believe the threshold for second-degree murder has been met,” Coleman said.

Coleman said the evidence police had “didn’t support” a charge of first-degree murder.

“It takes time to put the information together. There’s some judicial constraints we’re faced with around things like R. vs. Jordan, so we try to make sure that the investigation is as complete as possible prior to charges [being laid].”

Nel worked as a pastor at the Rockyview Alliance Church, but was put on administrative leave after police announced in April they were treating Cyrus’ death as a homicide and the church district learned Nel had been brought in by police for questioning.

Western Canadian District (Alberta) of the Christian and Missionary Alliance spokesperson Doug Balzer said Nel’s licence to act as a minister was suspended as of Friday.

“On Friday, May 12, we learned that Dan had been charged with second-degree murder,” Balzer said in a statement.

“Because of this development and the gravity of the charge, Dan will no longer be able to perform ministry duties for the foreseeable future and therefore on May 12 we suspended his licence to act as a minister. We remain in prayer for all involved in this situation.”


Nel’s bio on the church’s website states:

Origninally [sic] from South Africa, Dan moved to Canada in 1997 and has lived in Alberta for the last 11 years.

Dan’s heart truly lies in his calling to create music for the church and to lead people in meaningful times of spirit filled worship. Dan has had the opportunity over the last few years to record an album and share his music in many settings. Dan loves being creative, spontaneous and loves inspiring people. When Dan is not at work you will find him spending time with his wife Leah and their small pony (very large dog) named Bruce (Brutis Maximus).

“It is my desire to serve God through music and to serve and disciple people in the community. The Gospel message and the great commision [sic] is everything, without it I would be lost.”

Dan has been on staff at Rockyview since August of 2013.