A suspect in the murder of a senior pastor who was found dead last week turned out to be someone she wanted to help.

On Wednesday night last week, the body of a Georgia pastor was found inside a van by the 1600 block of Coffee Road in DeKalb County. Police said that the pastor, who was identified as Rev. Marita Harrell, a senior pastor at Connections @ Metropolitan church, was dumped along with her van on the site after she was killed at a home in Panola Road. On the night she was stabbed to death, Harrell had been mentoring and counseling a 27 year old Atlanta man.

Now, authorities have identified that same Atlanta man Harrell pastored as the perpetrator of the crime. Detectives have found that Christopher Griggs stabbed the 57 year old Georgia pastor in his home last week before abandoning her lifeless body on the side of the road, WECT News 6 reported. Griggs stabbed her with a large kitchen knife before setting her on fire, warrants revealed. On May 19, the Atlanta man was charged with murder and arson.

Georgia Pastor Remembered By Loved Ones

Harrell was a member of Central United Methodist Church for more than 25 years before she accepted God's call to serve, the Connections @ Metropolitan website said in her profile. Vincente Scott, a close family friend who met the Georgia pastor back in 1992, described her as a Sunday school teacher who "worked her way up the ranks" in the United Methodist Church. He remarked that Harrell valued her faith and that it was in her nature to want to help people out.

"If you knew her, she was offering advice, offering encouragement," Scott recalled. "The world has missed a great contributor to the civilizing process. If anything else, Marita was about improving individuals and improving society."

The United Methodist Church's North Georgia Conference Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson issued a statement about the Georgia pastor's ultimately death, expressing how "broken-hearted" they were to learn of Harrell's death "at the hand of one she was helping." Bishop Haupert-Johnson described the Georgia pastor as "a friend and a shining light" and offered prayers for the family and church she left behind.

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DeKalb County Community Come Together to Remember Slain Pastor

Almost 48 hours after Harrell was found dead inside a van which Griggs set on fire to hide the crime, the DeKalb County community came together for an online vigil to remember the Georgia pastor, Fox 5 Atlanta reported. Those who were close to Harrell said she would often reach out to young adults who were struggling to help them turn their lives around. Some have even described Harrell's face as the reflection of God's love.

Harrell's family said that the late Georgia pastor loved everybody no matter who they were or their walk in live. They even expressed concerns about some of the people she was pastoring, but she explained that God was calling her to help those in need. One of those was Griggs, who had a history of violence against women. He also failed to show up to two court hearings in Gwinnett County.

Harrell's daughter Alyse described her late mother as a person who had "an open, wonderful and accepting heart" and was always "willing to learn about new people." Her husband, Antonio, expressed concern two weeks ago over her pastoring Griggs, but Harrell had told him she "cannot turn away from them" because "God placed these people in my life."

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