Atlanta pastor’s husband finds her stabbed to death and lit on fire. Police arrested a felon she had been mentoring.

News & Politics

An Atlanta pastor was found by her husband stabbed to death with a kitchen knife and lit on fire. Police later arrested a man she had been mentoring.

The United Methodist Church community is reeling from the circumstances that led to the murder of 57-year-old Rev. Marita Harrell.

Harrell’s body was found in a minivan by her daughter and her husband after, out of concern for her safety, he warned her to stop meeting with recently released prisoners. He sought for her using cellphone location services.

The DeKalb County police report said that another friend had warned her about meeting released felons but that she replied that she wanted “to help people who have been in jail.”

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Court documents said she had been stabbed to death with a large kitchen knife and lit on fire.

On Thursday, police arrested 27-year-old Christopher Griggs and charged with the murder of Harrell and with second degree arson. He was booked into the DeKalb County Jail.

Court documents allege that Griggs killed Harrell at his home and then left her body in an abandoned vehicle five miles away where her husband later found her.

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church issued a statement about the murder of Harrell.

“I am broken-hearted since being informed of the death of Rev. Marita Harrell. It is a blow to our clergy family, especially since it appears she died at the hand of one she was helping,” read the statement.

“Marita was a friend and a shining light among us,” she continued. “I pray for her family, her church, and all who loved her. I am grateful that the Lord she represented so well was with her in all things and accompanied her to her eternal home. May His Spirit comfort those of us who remain.”

Harrell had two daughters aged 18 and 5.

Here’s a local news report about the harrowing incident:


Atlanta pastor stabbed with kitchen knife and set on fire, according to warrant

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