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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Did Pastor Richard Shahan Murder His Wife?

     In 2013, Richard Shahan, the 53-year-old associate pastor of the First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, lived in Homewood, Alabama with his wife Karen. Reverend Shahan functioned as the church's children and family pastor and facilities director. Karen Shahan had a job at a nearby Hobby Lobby store. The couple lived in a rental house owned by the church.

     After graduating in 1985 from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Shahan joined the staff at the First Baptist Church in Bryon, Texas where he was the Associate Pastor of Education and Family Development. From 1989 to 1999, Reverend Shahan served at the Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham. In 2000, he became Associate Paster in Education and Administration for the Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina where he worked seven years. From 2007 to 2009, Shahan was employed by the Kimble Knight Ministries in Brentwood, Tennessee. From Brentwood in 2009, he and his wife moved back to Birmingham where he joined the First Baptist Church in that city.

     In 2003, while working in Charlotte, North Carolina, Shahan formed his own company, an Internet-based curriculum provider called One Vine, Inc. In 2010, while living in Birmingham, Pastor Shahan and his wife filed for personal bankruptcy. According to court records, the couple listed $443,500 in assets and $505,665 in debts. At the time they had a monthly income of $5,874 which did not include a $2,516 monthly housing allowance from the church.

     In September 2012, Pastor Shahan took a leave of absence from the First Baptist Church in Birmingham in order to travel to Kazakhstan where he had acquired a visiting professor position at the Bible Institute in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He returned to Birmingham in May 2013.

     On July 23, 2013, Karen Louise Shahan's co-workers at Hobby Lobby became concerned when the 52-year-old pastor's wife didn't show up for work. Calls to her home went unanswered. At 11:15 that Tuesday morning, police officers with the Homewood Police Department, pursuant to a welfare check, made a gruesome discovery. The officers found that someone had stabbed Karen Shahan to death in her bedroom. The victim's blood had been spilled throughout the dwelling. A crime scene investigator told reporters that this was the most brutal murder site he had ever witnessed.

     Pastor Richard Shahan was not home the morning police discovered the body of his repeatedly stabbed wife. Detectives believed that the victim had been murdered Monday night or early the next day. There were no signs of forced entry, and nothing from the house had been stolen. The victim had not been sexually assaulted. Suspicion immediately fell upon the husband. The fact he was a pastor meant nothing to homicide detectives who know there is no such thing as an unlikely murder suspect.

     Detectives, on August 7, 2013, questioned Pastor Shahan at the Homewood police station. When asked to account for his whereabouts that Monday night and Tuesday morning, the pastor said he had been out of town visiting one of the couple's two sons.

     On August 8, 2013, the day after the station house interrogation, detectives took Shahan into custody "for investigative purposes." Under Alabama law, a suspect can only be held for investigation 48 hours. If the arrestee is not charged with a crime, he or she must be released.

     Following the suspect's 48 hours behind bars, the authorities released him because the prosecutor didn't have enough evidence to level a homicide charge. Because he was a suspect in his wife's brutal murder, officials at the First Baptist Church placed pastor Shahan on paid administrative leave.

     A Jefferson County prosecutor, shortly after Pastor Shahan announced on December 16, 2013 that he would be leaving the United States to do three years of mission work in Germany, charged him with first-degree murder. On New Years Day, 2014, police officers in Nashville, Tennessee arrested the pastor as he was about to board a plane to Germany.

     Jim Roberson, chief of the Homewood Police Department told reporters that, "Once he [Shahan] got over to Germany or Russia, the chances of extraditing him are pretty nil. We can't get Snowden [the NSA leaker], probably wouldn't get Shahan back either."

     On January 7, 2014, Shahan, though his attorney, said that he would waive his right to an extradition hearing. Less than a week later, the authorities in Alabama booked the murder suspect in the Jefferson County Jail.

     The Shahan case prosecutor did not revealed what evidence the state had against the former pastor. Some of the unanswered questions in the case involved whether investigators had identified the murder weapon. Also, was there physical evidence connecting Shahan to the bloody murder scene; and had detectives broken the suspect's alibi? It appeared the motive in the case was money.

     On October 23, 2014, a local grand jury indicted the former pastor for the murder of his wife. The suspect avoided jail by posting his $100,000 bond. He was, however,  pursuant to the terms of his release, under house arrest at his mother's dwelling in Homewood, Tennessee.

     In March 2016, a Jefferson County judge postponed Richard Shahan's murder trial nine months to January 9, 2017. The judge did not reveal the reason for the delay. In murder cases, delays often help the defense at the expense of the prosecution.

     

1 comment:

  1. investigative detentions are unlawful.... https://www.facebook.com/notes/troy-cates/the-forty-eight-hour-hold/10151659854623997

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