An Atlanta pastor was brutally stabbed to death and then set on fire by a man she was ministering to. The disturbing details inside…
A 27-year-old man is facing a murder charge for the horrific murder of a beloved Atlanta pastor.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Christopher Devonta Griggs fatally stabbed Rev. Marita Harrell, a senior pastor at Connections at Metropolitan United Methodist Church, inside of his residence while she was ministering to him last week.
Afterwards, he allegedly drove her body to a secluded road several miles from his home and then set her van on fire while she was inside, DeKalb County police spokesman Lt. Shane Smith said.
Church leaders and members are devastated by the disturbing news. They said the 57-year-old pastor was killed doing something she loved to do: help others.
“She was passionate about what she did, which was helping those who are lost and left out,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael T. McQueen, UMC’s district superintendent over its Fulton and Clayton County churches. “She was doing what she loved to do. That’s what makes this so tragic.”
DeKalb police arrested Christopher Griggs last Thursday (May 19th) and he’s being held in the DeKalb County Jail without bond. He was charged with malice murder and arson.
Sadly, Rev. Harrell leaves behind a husband and two daughters. Her 18-year-old daughter reportedly received a four-year scholarship - which includes room and board - from Dr. Georgia T. French, President of Clark Atlanta University.
On Sunday, church leaders and members at Connections at Metropolitan UMC Church remembered their beloved pastor.
“She was such a beautiful person inside and out,” said Pastor Cyndi Madison, who worked with Harrell at the newspaper decades ago.
”We were angry, we were hurt, we asked questions. But as believers, as children of God, we know what he is, as I said the great I am. And we just look to him," member DorrisBolden said.
Three decades ago, Rev. Harrell, a Chicago native, moved to Atlanta, where she spent more than two decades at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, working in the newspaper’s advertising department and as a diversity training facilitator. From 2016-2018, she served as the pastor of Rivertown UMC and at The United Methodist Children’s Home from 2018 until she was appointed as the assistant pastor at Newnan Chapel UMC the following December.
Rev. Harrell will truly be missed by her family, friends, and congregation. Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church issued a statement regarding Pastor Harrell’s murder:
“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. Marita was a friend and a shining light among us. 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.”
Sending our condolences and prayers up for Rev. Harrell's family, friends and church family.