Atlanta priest stabbed with kitchen knife and set on fire, according to order

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – A priest in Atlanta has died after being stabbed by a man whom police said she was trying to help.

According to the DeKalb County Police Department, 27-year-old Christopher Griggs on Wednesday stabbed 57-year-old Marita Harrell in his residence in the 1300-block of Panola Road. He then took her body to the 1600 block of Coffee Road and left her there.

Griggs stabbed Harrell with a large kitchen and set fire to her, according to rulings. DKCPD homicide detectives arrested Griggs on May 19 and charged him with murder and arson.

Pastor Harrell was a senior pastor at Connections @ Metropolitan Church. She moved to Atlanta over 30 years ago and was a member of Central United Methodist Church for over 25 years before accepting God’s call on her life, according to the church’s website.

“On a spiritual level, you ask God, why? What? Why her? She did your work,” said Vincente Scott, a close family friend.

Scott met Harrell in 1992. She was a Sunday School teacher at the time, but worked her way up the ranks of United Methodist Church. He said that faith was everything to Harrell and that it was in her nature to want to help people.

“If you knew her, she gave advice and offered encouragement,” he said. “The world has missed a great contributor to the civilization process. About something else, Marita was about improving individuals and improving society.”

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church issued the following statement:

“I’m devastated since I was informed of Pastor Marita Harrell’s death. It’s a blow to our clergy family, especially since it looks like she died at the hands of someone she helped. Marita was a friend and a shining light among us.I pray for her family, her church and all who loved her.I am thankful that the Lord she represented so well was with her in all things and followed her to her eternal home.May his Spirit comfort those of us who remain. “

The DKCPD confirmed that Harrell “mentored” Griggs at the time of her death. He is currently being held in DeKalb County Jail without bond. His first court appearance is on May 21.

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