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Minister Wanted In Wife’s Death Arrested While Trying To Flee Country

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File photo of a person in handcuffs. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a person in handcuffs. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An Alabama minister charged with murder in his wife’s stabbing death has been arrested at the Nashville International Airport trying to leave the country.

An affidavit said Richard Shahan (SHAY’-han) was “red-flagged” after he booked a flight to Frankfurt, Germany. He was arrested as a fugitive from justice on Wednesday by Homeland Security agents. He was taken to the Davidson County jail where he is awaiting a Jan. 7 extradition hearing that will determine whether he is sent back to Alabama.

Homewood, Ala., police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Didcoct said police took out a warrant Tuesday charging Shahan with murder. Didcoct said Shahan didn’t know about the warrant before his arrest.

Shahan’s wife, Karen Shahan, was found dead in the couple’s home in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, Ala., on July 23. Police had gone to the house after co-workers became concerned when she failed to show up for work.

Richard Shahan told authorities he was out of town visiting relatives at the time of his wife’s death. Police held Shahan for questioning over two days in August but released him without charges.

The day after his release, First Baptist Church of Birmingham, where Shahan served as the children and families pastor, announced on its Facebook page that Shahan was taking paid leave “to give him time and space to focus on his family and healing.”

On Thursday, the church posted a statement calling Shahan’s arrest sad and unexpected. The statement said Shahan had planned to begin working with the children’s ministry of Bible Mission International, primarily in Kazakhstan.

According to the statement, Shahan had announced his plans to pursue missionary work on Nov. 29. His resignation from the church was effective Tuesday, the same day that Homewood Police issued an arrest warrant for him.

“Our Prayers go to out Richard and his family,” the church’s statement reads. “We trust that eventually truth and justice can prevail.”

Homewood Police spokesman Didcoct said in a phone interview that detectives wanted to arrest Shahan before he left the country because they were concerned that it would be difficult to extradite him from overseas.

Didcoct said he did not know what kind of new information the detectives might have obtained between the time they questioned Shahan in August and the time they obtained a warrant.

Homewood police Chief Jim Roberson told reporters during a Thursday news conference that “certain inconsistencies in interviews” prompted investigators to view Richard Shahan as the main suspect in his wife’s death.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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