A Christian pastor was apprehended at Nashville International Airport in Tennessee on Thursday just after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with his wife’s murder.
Rev. Richard Shahan, 53, check his bag and made it through airport security when a computer finally flagged him. He was preparing to board a flight to Russia by way of Germany, when he was taken into custody by Homeland Security agents.
On Tuesday, a warrant was issued for Shahan’s arrest in Alabama. After his wife Karen Shahan was found stabbed to death in the couple’s Homewood home on July 23, police interviewed Shahan but he was eventually released. Now investigators say inconsistencies in the case led to an arrest warrant for Shahan.
“It will become readily apparent as we move into the trial process,” Homewood police Chief Jim Roberson said during a Thursday press conference. “There are very few new details of which we can go into great elaboration because it is an ongoing investigation.”
Shahan’s attorneys, Wendell Sheffield and John Lentine, still argue he isn’t a flight risk. They say Shahan had announced months ago that he planned to take a mission trip.
“Some of the inferences that were put out there in the news conference made it sound like Richard was trying to leave the country and never come back,” Lentine said of the situation. “Anybody who’s been keeping up with this knows that Richard had announced months ago that he was planning on going on another mission trip like he did in 2012.”
“All of us were saddened by the unexpected news that Richard Shahan was arrested by Homeland Security just moments before his planned flight departure for Frankfurt, Germany,” the First Baptist Church of Birmingham, where he resigned as pastor on Dec. 31, said in a statement. “There, he was to assume his new role working with the Children’s ministry of Bible Mission International, primarily in Kazakhstan.”
“As we know, on November 29 Richard announced his plans to pursue this mission ministry,” the church said on its Facebook page. “His resignation from First Baptist Church of Birmingham was effective December 31, 2013. Our Prayers go out to Richard and his family. We trust that eventually truth and justice can prevail."
Shahan was jailed without bond ahead of his extradition back to Alabama, where he will stand trial.
Homewood Police Chief Jim Roberson would not discuss the motive in the case. He did say there are no other suspects.
"We hope this arrest will bring some closure to family of Karen Shahan," Roberson said.