A newly married pastor at Rhema International Ministries (RIM) City Church in New Haven, Connecticut has been found shot dead alongside her husband.
Assistant Pastor LaRhonda Jones, 48, and her 54-year-old partner Eric were discovered dead in their bed on Thursday, much to the horror of their beloved congregations. “The church is devastated, devastated,” Denarian Gordon, Sr., RIM City Church’s Senior Pastor, told WTNH. “We’re all in a state of shock, disbelief.”
Yesterday, the church officially announced the terrible news on Facebook.
“On behalf of Apostle Denarian Gordon and Prophetess Eboni Gordon and the entire RIM City Church, it is with sorrowful hearts and regret to announce the passing of our Elder Eric Assistant Pastor Larhonda Jones,” the post read. “They were both great pillars to our church and our community and will both be missed. Please continue to pray for their families and the entire RIM City Church.”
The Waterbury Police Department was unsure as to why the couple were targeted, and are carrying out their preliminary investigation.
LaRhonda’s good friend Jennifer Whiten told WSFB that she had been a victim of domestic violence, before escaping the toxic relationship and devoting her life to the Lord and His ministry.
“She had a huge presence. Her spirit was just a welcoming spirit, everybody gravitated towards her,” Whiten said. “Everybody just loved her. It’s just a shock.”
LaRhonda and Eric had been married just a year, with Jones posting about the wonderful union on Facebook.
“Dear Husband: Eric Jones. You are one of God’s greatest blessings to me,” she wrote in the post, as reported by Christian Today. “Thank you for choosing me to be your good thing. I am blessed to have you as my husband. You are so dope. Thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for your endless patience. Thank you for taking care of everything. Thank you for working so hard for us. For going to work day after day to make things happen for us. It is not going unnoticed. For going out there and doing your best despite the frustrations and obstacles.”
“Thank you for supporting my ministry,” she added. “I really appreciate that. Thank you for your constant encouragement and belief in me.”
Eric had spent 20 years serving as a police officer in New Haven, before retiring back in 2012.
Many words of condolence have been posted online in the wake of the couple’s passing. “My deepest condolences to the family and Church. My prayers are with you all,” one person wrote. “May God continue to comfort you all.”
The investigation into the pair’s murder continues.