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Ronald Harris Murder Update: Slain pastor was accused of rape by murder suspect's wife, La. sheriff says

Woodrow Karey, 53, accused of killing La. pastor Ronald Harris Sr. during service. CBS affiliate WWLTV

Woodrow Karey
CBS affiliate WWLTV
(CBS/AP) NEW ORLEANS - The wife of a Louisiana man charged with killing a preacher Friday had filed a rape complaint against the pastor two days before the shooting, but it's not yet clear if there was an assault or a consensual sexual relationship, a sheriff said Monday.

Woodrow Karey is charged with fatally shooting Ronald Harris Sr. during a revival service at the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center in Lake Charles.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday that Harris and the suspect's wife had exchanged text messages days before she filed the rape complaint. It's not clear if there was a consensual relationship or not, and that will be a focus of the investigation, Mancuso said.

"We're trying to put all the pieces together," Mancuso said.

The sheriff declined to release a copy of the rape complaint, saying it is part of the ongoing investigation.

Mancuso said search warrants for phone records and other evidence may help paint a better picture of what led to the pastor's death.

Mancuso said Karey was cooperative earlier in the investigation but is no longer talking. The name of his attorney was not immediately available.

Mancuso hopes to talk to Karey's wife later.

The suspect's wife did not immediately respond to a message at her place of employment on Monday. Calls to the couple's home rang unanswered on Monday.

The pastor's relatives and church members say the 53-year-old suspect was once a member of the church but left several years ago without explanation.

Wendy Bernard, a church secretary and Harris family friend, was with the pastor's family Monday morning and said Karey had never shown signs of hostility, "none at all."

The Harris family could not immediately be reached for comment about the rape complaint. Calls to the pastor's house went unanswered after the sheriff disclosed the complaint.

Kim Myers, spokeswoman for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, has said that Karey has no known history of crime or mental troubles. She said he called police to surrender minutes after the shooting and told deputies where to find a shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol he had left in nearby woods.

Complete coverage of Ronald Harris' murder on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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