Megachurch founder James MacDonald allegedly sought murder for hire, police investigating

Pastor James MacDonald preaches at Harvest Bible Chapel. | (Photo: Courtesy of James MacDonald)

Police in Illinois are currently investigating allegations that Harvest Bible Chapel founder James MacDonald sought to find a hitman to commit murder.

“A subject came in and filed a report and we are doing an investigation based on that report,” Wilmette Deputy Police Chief Pat Collins confirmed with The Christian Post Monday.

The allegations regarding MacDonald’s efforts to commit murder were first reported by independent journalist Julie Roys, who cited Chicago radio personality Mancow Muller and Emmanuel “Manny” Bucur, a deacon at HBC and former confidant and volunteer bodyguard of MacDonald’s, as the individuals making the claims.

Muller alleges that MacDonald asked him at least twice in 2018 if he knew a hitman he could hire. Initially, he thought that the HBC founder was joking but it became clear to him during a conversation in December that MacDonald was “really serious,” Roys reported.

Bucur alleged that about three years before that, in 2015, MacDonald asked him to kill his former son-in-law, Tony Groves, and offered to help dispose of the body. He argued that he did not report MacDonald because he was angry about his daughter allegedly being hurt, and chalked up the proposal as a momentary lapse in judgment.

Bucur alleges that MacDonald asked him to kill Groves while they were on a motorcycle trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, from July 31, 2015, to August 2, 2015. Others who were on the trip are: former HBC Assistant Senior Pastor Rick Donald, former Elder and Executive Director of Harvest Bible Fellowship Kent Shaw, former Elder Marcel Olar, and church members Tom Moore and Steve Lupella.

During breakfast while at a restaurant in Indiana on the last day of the trip, Bucur said, MacDonald asked him to kill Groves while searching pornography websites for damaging material he feared Groves may have posted of his daughter Abby.

MacDonald reportedly asked Bucur if he would be willing to “take Tony out.” Bucur reportedly responded, “Are you asking me what I think you’re asking me?”

It was then that MacDonald confirmed his request and told him that with his background as a combat Marine veteran, it shouldn’t be too hard to kill Groves and get away with it.

Bucur said he replied, “Absolutely not! We’re not having this conversation and we’re not talking about this ever again.”

Muller confirmed that he filed a report with police where he lives in Wilmette, Illinois on Thursday and said he’s terrified of MacDonald, who he believes is “dangerous” and may be targeting him. Since filing the report, Muller says police have increased patrols around his house while he has also hired private security.

Bucur also reportedly filed a separate report with police in Bartlett, Illinois, who said they would allow the Wilmette investigation to continue rather than open up a second investigation.

Under Illinois law, a person who requests or encourages someone to murder another person is guilty of solicitation of murder which is a Class X felony which comes with a 15-30 years prison sentence.

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