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Minister, Wife Found Slain In Home

A minister and his wife were found slain under the Christmas tree in their burning home, their bodies bound and bludgeoned and an ax embedded in the clergyman’s head.

The Rev. C. Frederick Mathias and his wife, Cleta, both 64, had been to an interfaith service Sunday night and were attacked shortly after they arrived home, probably by someone they surprised in the house or who followed them inside, sheriff’s Capt. Mike Russo said.

The couple, still wearing their coats, were bound with rope and beaten with a blunt instrument, Russo said. A fire was set with an accelerant in an upstairs hall.

Investigators said the motive was unclear. Russo said valuable items such as electronic equipment were left behind.

Mathias had been pastor for 11 years at Northminister Presbyterian Church.

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