Church leaders make court appearance in child-abuse murder case

Two church leaders who are charged with killing their 9-year-old son made their first court appearance this afternoon.

The Kansas City Star/January 2, 2003
By Robert A. Cronkleton

Neil and Christy Edgar, pastors of God's Creation Outreach Ministry, a Kansas City, Kan., church, are in jail and charged with first-degree murder in Brian's death. The Edgars also face felony child-abuse charges involving three other children -- boys 16 and 12, and a 9-year-old girl.

All four were adopted. The three who now are in protective custody are siblings. Brian, who was adopted in June 2000, was not related to them.

During her court appearance, 46-year-old Christy Edgar looked down and did not make eye contact with dozens of supporters in the Wyandotte County courtroom. Handcuffed to another prisoner, she wiped tears from her face several times.

Meanwhile, 47-year-old Neil Edgar was kept separate from other defendants who were making their first appearances on unrelated charges.

District Court Judge Ernest Johnson first read the charges against Neil Edgar, who stood motionless and expressionless as each of the four charges was read.

When Johnson read the charges against Christy Edgar, several men in the audience rose in a show of support.

Prosecutors allege that the Edgars' children were frequent victims of abuse that involved binding and gagging before bedtime.

Wyandotte County Coroner Alan Hancock said that Brian's mouth had been taped shut and that something like a sock had been stuffed in it. He said there were signs that Brian had vomited and that he had been bound around the chest.

The boy suffocated, Hancock said.

The latest abuse charges are the second series of abuse charges leveled against members of the God's Creation Outreach Ministry in recent years.

In May 2000, a jury found Lee Ray Banks Sr. guilty of four counts of abuse for using a stun gun against his four children while they stayed at the church's youth center on Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kan. Banks, 37, was sentenced to nearly five years in prison and is at the Lansing Correctional Facility.

He becomes eligible for parole in December.

Neil Edgar testified as a reluctant state's witness at Banks' trial. Edgar described Banks as his "spiritual son" and said that he had no knowledge of Banks having abused his children. Edgar said that had he known Banks was abusing his children, he would have attempted to stop Banks from doing so.

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