For just over a year, newlywed assistant pastor at RIM City Church in Connecticut, LaRhonda Jones and her husband Eric, an elder, had been telling the world how grateful they were for each other on social media.
Those who knew the pastor, 48, however are now reeling in shock after she was found shot dead in bed along with her 54-year-old husband Thursday.
“The church is devastated, devastated,” Denarian Gordon, Sr., the senior pastor RIM City Church in New Haven, who performed the couple’s marriage ceremony a year ago, told WTNH. “We’re all in a state of shock, disbelief.”
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A statement from the Waterbury Police Department said the pastor and her elder husband, who is also a retired police officer, were found Thursday after LaRhonda didn’t show up for work.
LaShonda's employer as well as her sister called police to do a welfare check and she was found with her husband in the bedroom of their condo in Waterbury dead from apparent gunshot wounds.
"The police located a deceased adult male and a deceased adult female lying on a bed in a bedroom," the statement to The Christian Post said. A handgun was also found in the room.
Waterbury police confirmed with The Christian Post Monday that the case was still being investigated but have not yet provided any additional details concerning the death of the couple.
LaRhonda's friend Jennifer Whiten told WSFB the late assistant pastor was a domestic violence survivor who committed and devoted her life to God and serving others.
“She had a huge presence. Her spirit was just a welcoming spirit, everybody gravitated towards her. Everybody just loved her. It's just a shock," Whiten said.
It was also perhaps a shock to many of LaRhonda’s friends because of the many messages she posted about her God-blessed relationship before and after her marriage to Eric on March 10, 2018, whom she called “one of God’s sons” and “saved for real.”
“Saturday, March 10, 2018, I married one of God’s sons. He loves me in-spite of me. He is saved for real, he loves God, patient, kind, funny, straightforward, and handsome. I am proud to be his wife and call him my husband. #wearethejones’s” she wrote on Facebook shortly after their wedding.
Less than two months later, she praised her husband in a May 4, 2018, message on Facebook for being the “perfect example of a man and husband,” working hard to support her ministry and “putting up with me” in a relationship she hinted was going through “frustrations and obstacles.”
“Dear Husband: Eric Jones. You are one of God’s greatest blessings to me. 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,” she wrote.
“Thank you for supporting my ministry. I really appreciate that. Thank you for your constant encouragement and belief in me. You push me to be better even though I try to hide behind you. Lol!!! Thank you for listening and keeping me on my toes. Thank you for being so handsome along with other things I can’t mention here. You are the perfect example of a man and a husband. You are the perfect husband for me. I don’t have the words to express what an awesome husband you are but I love you with my whole heart. Forever and always devoted to you. Your wife Rhonda,” she ended.
On his Facebook page, LaRhonda’s husband Eric, who retired in 2012 as New Haven police officer who served in the force for 20 years, described his 2018 marriage to her as a “fresh start.”
Less than a month ago, he celebrated his wife and his birthday on Facebook.
“I am so great full (sic) for everyone who took the time out for all the birthday wishes. I am still smiling. God has blessed me to see another year in which, I am thankful. Special thanks to my wife for making the day great...Love you sweetheart,” he wrote.
“My husband made sure my birthday was perfect. He is the best husband ever. Today was an excellent birthday. Thank sweetheart for the gifts, the flowers, the balloons, and the play. Now off for a late dinner. Also, thank you to my FB family and friends for all the birthday wishes. You guys rock,” she wrote in a post on Facebook.
RIM City Church describes itself as a new “FRESH” multicultural and non-denominational ministry.
“It is our goal to make sure that you receive the full benefits of the promises of God. If you are tired of religion; philosophical teaching and preaching, and you are ready to form an authentic relationship with Jesus, instead of just experiencing the effects of religion, then Rhema International Ministries was birthed for you,” the church notes.