Three men now face charges in pastor's murder -, GA News Weather & Sports

Three men now face charges in pastor's murder

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA  (WTVM) – Three men are in custody, accused of killing an East Alabama pastor in broad daylight in Downtown Columbus this week.

Michael Ingram, 59, and Donnie Forte, 52, have been charged along with Joel Thomas, 23, in the murder, kidnapping and armed robbery of Reverend Blanchard Thomas.

All three men have prior records and are convicted felons.

The 44-year-old Baptist preacher, pastor at Mount Missouri Baptist Church in Pittsview, AL, was shot Tuesday downtown after giving a woman a ride home from Phenix City to Columbus.

Police say the woman had been assaulted in Phenix City and when the pastor dropped her off at home near the Booker T. Washington apartments, Joel Thomas, her cousin, along with  Forte and Ingram jumped in his car, thinking he knew something about the attack on the woman.

"He was trying to get her home and when he got her home, they jumped in the car and took him off and made him drive to location where he was murdered," said Thomas' sister, Schendora.

The reverend was shot in the head under the Oglethorpe Bridge in what was his last attempt at helping someone in need. Columbus Police say he was a Good Samaritan and the killers had the wrong man.

"It was senseless what they did. They didn't have a heart. They didn't care about anybody's life. They just took a life for nothing. They're going to meet their maker and they're going to pay the ultimate price when they stand before and are judged before God," his sister, Schendora, added.

She also thanked the Columbus investigators who worked the case, saying they tracked the alleged killers down quickly, with not much evidence or information to go off of.

The men charged with Thomas' all waived their preliminary hearings Friday and are being held without bond in the Muscogee County Jail.

Ingram has a 1994 conviction for possession of cocaine.

Joel Thomas has a 2008 conviction for the sale of cocaine.

Forte has an armed robbery conviction from 1975. He is the alleged shooter in the case, according to police.

Reverend Blanchard Thomas will be laid to rest on March 18th.

To accommodate the expected turnout, services will be held at Franchise Missionary Baptist Church in Phenix City at 11 AM. All are welcome to attend and pay their respects.

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