Joseph Cambron visited local church before alleged killing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Joseph Cambron visited local church before alleged killing

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Pastor Joe Phelps Pastor Joe Phelps

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  (WDRB) -- Highland Baptist Church Pastor Joe Phelps says Joseph Cambron came into the church just days before police say he killed a 12-year-old homeless boy in Cherokee Park.

"I felt as if I'd taken the ALS bucket challenge," said Phelps in a recent letter. "At Highland, we are well acquainted with sinners of all stripes sitting in our sanctuary's pews and standing at its pulpit each week."

The words are posted in the church's newsletter.

"But one's blood runs arctic to discover a soon-to-be murderer had been in our midst."

Phelps wrote the letter after learning accused killer Joseph Cambron had visited his church the weekend before allegedly killing 12-year-old Ray Etheridge.

"I was told right before the 11 o'clock service that Mr. Cambron had been in our services the previous Sunday," said Phelps.

Phelps immediately looked for and found confirmation in the church registry.

"Sure enough, there was his name," he said. "It just put a chill through me."

After the chill and initial shock, Phelps began to put his thoughts on paper. He said, "A little bit of regret and disappointed."

He says he questioned both himself and his congregation.

"Could the sermon have been more compelling and convincing? Could the church's welcome have been more complete and transforming?"

Phelps even remembers his message from that Sunday.

"We were talking about justice," he said. It's still on the sign outside the church. "The focus was on doing justice, caring for the poor, caring for the needy," explained Phelps.

It is unclear what brought Cambron through the doors of the church.

Phelps said, "I recall seeing him. I noticed he was fidgety."

But Phelps wonders why Cambron didn't get the message from the pulpit or above the door before exiting the church that says: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only."

"It makes one stop and think about what we are doing and how effectively we are doing it," said Phelps.

Pastor Phelps says he believes Cambron should go to prison for a long time, but also says he plans to visit and minister to him at Metro Corrections.

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