Preacher John David Terry Murdered and Beheaded Friend to Fake Own Death (1987) – Equally Yoked Is Pointless
Some Christians insist that single Christian women can and should marry only Christian men.
But why on earth should any Christian woman bother dating or marrying Christian men, when some of them do things like murder other people? See the news coverage below.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A minister went on trial Monday on charges of beheading a handyman and burning down his church in an alleged attempt to assume a new identity and disappear with $50,000 in church money.
Jury selection is expected to take most of the week in the first-degree murder and arson trial of the Rev. John David Terry, who faces the death penalty if convicted.
Terry may take the witness stand to break his yearlong silence in the decapitation of James C. Matheny.
The slaying and fire on June 15, 1987, at Emmanuel Church of Christ Pentecostal Oneness stunned Terry’s parishioners. Some have stuck by him since Matheny’s body was found rolled up in a scorched carpet.
This week “Grave Secrets” examines the case of Rev. John David Terry, a pastor who took a very dark path indeed.
Nashville, June 16, 1987, and the 44-year-old pastor is found dead after a fire at the church where he preached but the investigation soon reveals something is amiss.
Terry’s path to crime partly stemmed from his feeling of having failed in life, a feeling he claimed became stronger after his mother died in 1983.
He then hatched a plan to fake his own death and befriended 32-year-old down on his luck father of one James C. Matheny.
He wanted to fake a robbery that would result in his heroic death and claimed that his plan was to include Matheny in the plot.
However, the detectives believe that he lured Matheny to the church and then shot him in the back of the head.
He then stripped his body and began removing identifiable body parts, which included his head and right forearm.
The pastor then bought some gasoline and headed back tot he church where he wrapped the body in a carpet and set the building on fire.
He also sliced off Matheny’s tattoos and flushed the flesh down the toilet before heading over to handyman’s house to plant clues that he had committed the murder and robbery, even going as far as using the severed arm to leave finger prints.
Luckily for the police the fire failed to burn the body and it soon became clear it was not Terry and detectives began searching for him. He eventually handed himself over to the authorities and in 1988 he was sentenced to die by electric chair. He won a retrial a little later but that jury also found him guilty and in 2003 he hung himself in a prison bathroom.
by David A. Fox / 2003
The Nashville minister convicted in the 1987 murder of James Chester Matheney has committed suicide in Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.
According to a release from the Department of Correction, John David Terry, 58, apparently died by hanging himself. Terry had been on death row since September 1988.
Associated Press reports at the time quoted Terry as saying he was depressed about the death of his mother four years earlier and for having been passed over as bishop of his church.
He was the minister of Emmanuel Church of Christ Oneness Pentacostal here.
Prosecutors said Terry stole church funds, lured Matheney to the church in advance of a fishing trip, killed him, then set the church afire to give the appearance that it had been Terry who had been killed.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Pentecostal minister was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder in the decapitation slaying of his church handyman, then confessed to the crime in court.
The minister, John David Terry, 47, also was found guilty of arson for setting fire to the Emmanuel Church of Christ Oneness Pentacostal in an attempt to make it appear he and his victim had both died in the blaze.
…’Did you kill James Chester Matheny?’ defense attorney Lionel Barrett asked Terry after the conviction.
‘Yes, sir, I did,’ Terry replied.
Terry testified he thought he could start a new life under a different name after reading an article in Soldier of Fortune magazine.
‘I just reached a point in my life that I didn’t want to live,’ Terry said. ‘I just felt I was going crazy, losing my mind,’ he said.
Prosecutors said Terry shot Matheny in the head, then chopped off all body parts that could identify him, including his head. Terry put the handyman’s body in the church then set the building on fire.
…Prosecutors said Terry embezzled church funds and wanted to fake his death so he would be a hero in the eyes of his congregation and his family.
He hoped Matheny’s body would be burned beyond recognition and investigators would think it was Terry who perished in the blaze, prosecutors said.
Assistant District Attorney John Zimmermann said quick work by firefighters foiled the plan because they doused the blaze in the church before Matheny’s body could burn beyond recognition.